IAN Bogie believes Gateshead’s season is heading towards a make-or-break period this Christmas. The Tynesiders’ excellent run of form was brought to a halt on Saturday as their re-arranged game against league leaders Newport County ended in a disappointing defeat for the visitors.
The 3-1 reverse was a let-down for Bogie, but it was the flat performance which left him particularly frustrated, his promotion-chasing outfit effectively out of the game by the hour mark.
The Gateshead boss is calling for immediate improvement tonight when high-flying Grimsby visit the International Stadium in a match which kick-starts a potential pivotal run of festive fixtures.
Bogie said: “The biggest disappointment for me at the weekend was the performance.
“We are a good team and have shown that over the course of the season but we had too many players on Saturday who didn’t turn up.
“We probably only had two or three players who turned up at Newport and we will be looking for them to respond against Grimsby.
“From that perspective, the weekend result is history and we have to look forward to Grimsby now instead.”
Bogie is hopeful the game will go ahead despite the heavy rain and subsequent ice which forced a venue shift on Saturday.
The club’s groundstaff have been hard at work and, while they were braced for another blast of Arctic weather overnight, they hope to get the match on.
With Gateshead’s home form so good this year, Bogie is seeing it as the catalyst for a push on the Conference promotion places.
He said: “It is a very important period for our season.
“The Christmas period is going to be crucial.
“We have back-to-back games over that period and if we get a bit of a run going we can make our presence felt at the top of the table.
“By the same token, the league is so tight there is virtually nothing separating us from the bottom five and if we don’t pick up results then we will be looking over our shoulders.
“There is also the added factor of the January transfer window and whether we look to invest to push us on to the next level.
“The players who are here now have been given every opportunity to impress and we are looking for them to do it again now.”
Not that they have a straightforward task against a Grimsby side which looks in good shape to return to the Football League after a two-year hiatus.
The Mariners are breathing down the necks of table-topping Newport and have one of the league’s most prolific strikers in Ross Hannah.
However, they could only draw with lowly Ebbsfleet on Saturday and Bogie sees them as beatable.
He added: “I think Grimsby will always be one of the favourites in this division because their recent history is in the Football League and until quite recently they were in the Championship.
“It has been a spectacular fall from grace for them but they will be looking at this as a chance to rebound and they are where they are because arguably they are the most consistent team in the division.
“They have quality all over the field and we’re aware of every player who can do us damage. Hannah is one of those but he isn’t the only one who can be a threat. “Having said that, we are a match for anyone in this division if we turn up.
“We have beaten Luton, we have beaten Macclesfield and we have beaten Mansfield so we have shown we can live with the very best in this division.
“Now it is up to us to do the same again against Grimsby.”
Bogie has a full squad to chose from and was buoyed by the presence of James Brown at training on Tuesday.
The former Hartlepool man will not be involved against Grimsby but has an outside chance of returning for the weekend match against Cambridge.