ANTH Smith has challenged his Gateshead side to reproduce the “excellence” that demolished Luton Town, and win their way to safety.
The Tynesiders bring their season to an end against already relegated Ebbsfleet United this afternoon at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium (5.15pm), knowing they could yet face the drop themselves.
Smith’s side are two places and two points above Stockport County, who occupy the last remaining relegation spot and against whom the Tynesiders threw away victory in the 93rd minute on Tuesday night.
Stockport – managed by former Tynesiders boss Ian Bogie – face a trip to second-top Kidderminster Harriers and, with a better goal difference than all of the clubs around them, Gateshead can probably afford to draw.
But after setting the “barometer” with their recent 5-1 win over Luton, Smith is keen to see similar standards guide his team home.
“The one thing we’ve tried to instil is a high standard,” said Smith.
“We’re looking for excellence. We’ve said to the players that when they’re good they’ll get the plaudits. We saw that level of excellence against Luton and Kidderminster.
“That’s the barometer we use now as a club, that’s what they’ve proved they’re capable of and they’re the sort of targets they have to set themselves in every game.
“So we’ll aim for high standards and, all being well, that’s the sort of excellence we’ll be looking for next season.”
First, though, come Ebbsfleet, and with their fate in their own hands, the Gateshead boss says he will be disinterested in results elsewhere. “I won’t be checking the other scores, we have to concentrate on our own position,” he said.
“I think if you start getting distracted by other results it can work against you.
“We just have to make sure we keep our own house in order, and the good thing is it’s in our hands. Go and get three points and it’s sorted.
“The lads will be 100% focused. They’re a honest bunch. They may make mistakes but they’re honest mistakes. I’d be concerned if I thought there was a lack of effort, but there won’t be.
“We’re more than capable of getting a result, we won’t be taking Ebbsfleet lightly. I’ve always said in this league, anybody’s capable of beating anybody else, so we underestimate no one.
“We regrouped after Tuesday, we’re focused and now we’ve got to make sure we’re fully at it come 5.15pm on Saturday.”