Harrogate Town v Gateshead: Victory will guarantee play-off place

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Harrogate Town will be guaranteed a place in the National League play-offs if they beat Gateshead at the CNG Stadium on Easter Monday.

Should eighth-placed Ebbsfleet United lose at home to Dover Athletic, then Simon Weaver's team will finish in the top seven regardless, however their fate is in their own hands and a victory from their last home game of the campaign will ensure that they end up no lower than sixth position.

Having seen his side climb to the top of of the table and then remain in play-off contention throughout the whole of what is their first ever season in English football's fifth tier, boss Weaver is understandably keen for his players to finish the job.

"We've got a job to do for the club and for the town and that job starts on Monday," he said.

"It can really swing it for individuals' careers if we get in the play-offs because suddenly the cameras are out again and it's a chance for people to really raise their game and enjoy the moment.

"Gateshead are a very good team. People underestimate the level, but we have to handle the expectation that we've created. We've deserved that expectation because we have made rapid progress over the last couple of years.

"But Gateshead are very good. They've got a cause to get behind because of the upheaval behind the scenes where sometimes they weren't paid. It's galvanised their team spirit, so we're up against that, plus the fact that they are very talented players.

"We have to go and play like we did against Leyton Orient and execute the finish this time. That's the challenge and I'm backing our players. We'll go from strength-to-strength now, I'm sure."

Gateshead come into the fixture ninth in the table and still harbouring slim top-seven hopes of their own following a 1-0 home success over Chesterfield last time out.

Despite the fact that they had not won in six matches prior to their Good Friday victory, maximum points from their remaining two fixtures could see Ben Clark's team sneak into a play-off berth.

The Heed have enjoyed a positive season despite their widely-reported financial problems and the departure of previous manager, Steve Watson, to York City and only their recent lean spell has seen them drop off the pace in the race for promotion.

Yet despite that downturn in fortunes since mid-March, Town captain Josh Falkingham insists that the Tynesiders cannot be underestimated.

"No game at this level is going to be easy," he said.

"If we think it's gonna be easy and turn up and just roll into a game we will come away with nothing. It's as simple as that.

"We've got to prepare right, which we will because we're a professional bunch of players, and go into Gateshead full of belief and positivity and stamp our authority on the match.

"As long as we do that and win our battles and play the way that we want to play then I'm sure we will get the win that we hopefully will have deserved."

The clubs have met six times in the past, with Town winning on four occasions, the most recent of which was a dramatic 3-2 triumph at the International Stadium back in September that took Weaver's men top of the National League.

Kick-off at the CNG Stadium is at 3pm. For live updates and post-match reaction, follow @HarrogateSport on Twitter.