Gateshead can take a big stride into the Conference play-offs tonight with victory against Braintree.
The Tynesiders have just four games left but can put a six-point gap between themselves and Alan Devonshire’s side this evening in Essex.
Gary Mills’ side go into the clash on the back of five successive wins and are in fourth place.
The turnaround by Mills is made even more remarkable when it is considered that the Heed lost their first four games of the season under Anth Smith.
The expectation levels at the International Stadium have risen under Mills, and rather than get drawn into talk that a play-off spot is on the cards, he said: “We have just got to keep winning.
“We have given ourselves a chance because we’ve won six out of seven and taken 19 points from 21.”
A two-legged crack at getting to a Wembley final will be on the horizon with victory against Braintree then another win on Good Friday against Southport on Tyneside, in a game which the club are trying to attract a bumper holiday crowd of over 2,000.
For now the emphasis is on tackling Braintree and putting that vital cushion between the two sides.
Mills said: “We’ve given ourselves a good chance of making the play-offs.
“We’ve had six wins from the last seven games, and have to see the job through now.”
Gateshead won 1-0 at Hereford in another crunch clash against the cash-strapped and relegation haunted side.
It was a win that Mills was delighted with and one he felt showed his side are hitting the best form at just the right time.
Mills said: “We passed the ball well, and when we had to defend we did so superbly.
“Adam Bartlett pulled off a couple of unbelievable saves, which enabled us to get another clean sheet and a 1-0 win, which is always a great result away from home.
“We haven’t played as we know we can in the last couple of games, but we were back to our best, and superb from start to finish.
“We had a few chances on top of the goal, which we would like to have taken.
“And had a few scary moments from corners.
“But it would have been a travesty if we hadn’t won.” And Mills admits he would take a 1-0 victory again tonight against ex-West Ham United star Devonshire.
He said: “I absolutely love a 1-0 win away from home.
“I think it’s the best result you can have.”
Gateshead will see long-serving defender James Curtis make his 500th appearance for the club against Braintree.
The 32-year-old has helped the Tynesider rise through the non-league circuit and playing in the Football League would be a dream come true for the flame haired stopper.
Mills hopes that three points at Braintree will be the perfect build-up to that home clash with Southport.
He said: “After that we’ve got Southport and a big Easter weekend.
“We are centre stage on Good Friday.
“And a big crowd would be great as we look to cement our place in the play-offs.”