MANAGER Tommy Cassidy is officially “on leave” and coach Paul Baker will again be at the helm when Newcastle Blue Star visit FC United of Manchester in the UniBond League Division One North game this afternoon.
Cassidy has been away from Kingston Park since the club announced less than a fortnight ago they were applying for relegation from the UBL after just one season with the intention of returning to the Arngrove Northern League.
Baker, who was installed as Cassidy’s number two less than a month ago, took charge for the first time last Saturday.
“It’s not an ideal situation but I’ve always been hands on. It’s very strange with so much up in the air but the lads responded magnificently to the uncertainty last week,” said Baker.
The stand-in manager reckons today’s fixture is an ideal opportunity for those players who do not see their future at Blue Star in the ANL, adding: “FC United of Manchester attract gates in excess of 3,000 so it will be a shop window. I know that some of the lads will want to stay in the UBL.”
Two players have already left Kingston Park, with goalkeeper Craig Summersgill and Wayne Gordon being released. Ben Pringle and Shaun Davies, meanwhile, have been recalled from Morpeth Town and Sunderland RCA, respectively.
“There have been some comings and goings and we thought we needed to bolster the squad so we have cancelled the two loan deals,” said director of football Bob Morton.
Meanwhile, despite losing to leaders Witton Albion in midweek, manager Ian Bogie remains confident Gateshead will clinch a play-off place in the UniBond League Premier Division.
He said: “Witton Albion were the best side and deserved to win, but we are still in a great position and I’m far from despondent. I’m looking forward to our game in the Midlands against Hednesford Town this afternoon.
“The defeat was only our second since New Year’s Day and we have lost two away matches all season so there’s no reason whatsoever why we shouldn’t still make the play-offs.”