Craig Elliott believes Boston United are still ‘miles off’ where he wants them to be as a side – but the Pilgrims boss wants his squad to continue building momentum by ending Gateshead’s 100 per cent home record.
United will travel to the north east on Saturday (KO 3pm) to face a familiar foe who have won all four of their matches at the Gateshead International Stadium to date.
Injury, Covid-19, losing defender Andy Butler to Peterborough United and three players caught up in gambling controversy have hampered Boston’s pre-season.
However, Elliott believes his side are slowly playing catch up on league rivals and – following a good run of form – will still head north full of confidence.
“We’re miles off where we want to be but we’ve won five of our last six, so we’re not in a bad place,” he said.
“Players know we’re going to get better, week by week, month by month.”
Striker Jordan Preston is expected to return from injury in time to face the club he left in the summer.
Preston was rested for the weekend’s 4-0 FA Cup victory over East Thurrock after picking up a knock on his knee.
However, he will be keen to feature against his old employers, as will fellow ex-Gateshead attackers Jordan Burrow and Jake Wright jnr.
“Jordan will be fine. I could have probably rushed him back (to face Thurrock) but I didn’t want to do that,” explained manager Craig Elliott.
Despite the weekend's FA Cup exit, losing 3-2 at Runcon Linnets, he Heed have won all of their four home games so far this campaign – beating Kettering Town, Guiseley and Gloucester City in the league and Bradford Park Avenue in the cup.
“They’re a good team. I’ve watched a few of their games already and they look good,” Elliott said.
“There are some teams you play who look a full-time outfit and Gateshead are one. They look fit, have good patterns of play and their home form’s the best in the league.
“It’ll be tough, no doubt about that. But it’s a big month for us and we have to go there confident and try to build momentum.”
United and Gateshead didn’t meet before last season’s National League North campaign was made null and void.
However, they clashed three times in the 2019-20 campaign, United winning 5-3 in the play-off semi-finals after 3-0 defeats at both the Gateshead International Stadium and York Street – the final contest in front of fans at the Pilgrims’ old home.
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