Gateshead Are Coming! Possibly...

If by some miracle the weather should hold off long enough for the pitch to recover (and the winds drop to a level that won't require supporters being lashed to stanchions to avoid being blown away) this Saturday will see the resurrection of a tie that was a common sight in the seventies and eighties. No, not the kipper tie (that famous Brummie beverage) but Mossley versus Gateshead.

It's been the best part of seventeen years since the Tynesiders last made the trek south to Seel Park. In that 89/90 season Gateshead claimed the league title and won promotion to the Conference. At the opposite end of the 'pleasure' spectrum Mossley were experiencing the shenanigans of Lawlor and Fisher that would eventually send the club on a downward spiral.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Mark Hilton became manager after the departure of Bryan Griffiths and treated everyone to his novel approach team selections (e.g. top scoring forward at centre half and himself, a centre half, playing as a forward.) before going the way of many Mossley managers at that time. The last anyone seems to have heard of him was when he appeared on the front page of the short lived Northern Echo paper in the early 90's under the headline: Bernard Manning Stole My Wife!

So here we are in the 21st Century and Gateshead arrive with Mossley in a familiar position to the one they were in the last time they visited - struggling against relegation, only this time around we're deeper in the doo-doo. The North Easterners headed back home with a point from that meeting following a 2-2 result, Jim McCluskie scoring both of Mossley's goals in one of his final games before his controversial departure to Hyde United. And what wouldn't we give for someone of his quality now!

Gateshead currently sit mid-table in 12th position, recovering well from a poor September/October that saw them flirt with the relegation spots. Mossley on the other hand fell madly in love with them and reside in 20th spot at the moment on the same number of points as Leek Town.

The Heed's push up the table is reflected in the form tables where they have the sixth best record in the league over the course of the last six games, averaging 1.83 points and 2.5 goals for per game in that time. Away from the International Athletics Stadium they've only lost three times and arrive at the foot of the Pennines unbeaten on their travels for four games.

Mossley's grip on the wooden spoon given to the side with the worst home record in the league remains as tight as ever though; the record of two wins and one draw from twelve games being the poorest in the league by a long shot. A blistering twenty minute spell in the first half of their last home game against league leaders Telford did provide some hope that the Lilywhites woeful form will soon be turned around, but the performance against Flixton in midweek nixed that wishful thinking in the bud before it had a chance to blossom.

Prediction: Call me mad but this has 'win' written all over it. For Mossley too.

As I've mentioned in the past there's always a positive reaction from Mossley following a heavy or embarrassing defeat - and they don't get any more embarrassing than losing to the reserve side of a team two leagues lower.