Gary Mills has warned Gateshead they must be more ruthless if they are to sustain a challenge for promotion.
The Tynesiders have been in fine form since Mills replaced Anth Smith as manager in early September.
But successive 1-1 draws against FC Halifax Town and Chester have slowed their progress.
The Heed travel to Halifax this afternoon, having dominated the Shaymen during Boxing Day’s stalemate.
Mills has called for a repeat of that performance, but with a greater urgency in the final third and an increased commitment to taking their chances.
“It’s a tough, tough league this,” said Mills. “Halifax are doing well this season but we were the better side against them last week, there’s no two ways about that.
“But we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to be more ruthless up front. We had chance after chance but only put one away.
“We need to keep the ball, go back when we need to start again, and we do that well.
“But I don’t know whether we’re given that little bit too much licence at times to go and get on balls in the wrong areas.
“I think that’s what happened, my strikers were coming back into midfield areas too much in the first half.
“They’ve got to go and play as strikers – that’s why we play three up there.
“We play a style here now at Gateshead that I want, but we’ve got to go and hurt teams.
“We’ve got to do that for 90 minutes, be positive.”
Colin Larkin could return after missing Saturday’s trip to Chester.