GATESHEAD Thunder will attempt to end a damaging three-game losing streak and record only their second double of the season when they travel to York City Knights tomorrow.
Thunder kicked off their Co-op National League Two campaign with an impressive 26-18 win against the Knights at Kingston Park back in April.
But Dave Woods’ side have won only four of their 14 league games since and have slipped to second-bottom in the table.
The Tynesiders reached the play-offs in each of their last two seasons under previous coach Dean Thomas, but, despite a disappointing season, Woods believes progress has been made.
He said: “We knew this year was going to be difficult and it has been.
“As far as progress is concerned I think we’ve improved a lot, but we’ve got to start to get a few more wins.
“We’ll be ready for a big game at York. They’re a good side who will want a bit of payback for the league defeat up here.”
Thunder, beaten at home by 12-man Workington Town last week, will need to improve markedly if they are to cause an upset at the Huntington Stadium.
“We made many errors last week and it’s something we’re working on,” said Woods.
“We’ve had a big problem this year with players switching off in games, but, hopefully, we’ll rectify some of the problems this week.”
Gateshead will again be without a recognised playmaker alongside Australian Tim Martin, although half-back Kevin Till is on the bench after a long lay-off due to illness.
Fijian prop Tabua Cakacaka, who left Thunder for York in the close season only to return to Gateshead, returns to the side after a one-match suspension.
Long-term absentees Johnny Scott and Danny Wilson are back in training but young winger Stuart Sanderson is unlikely to feature at York.
Sanderson fractured a finger in training and, with Odell Harris already sidelined with a broken hand, Robin Peers returns on the wing while prop Dylan Nash continues at centre.
On-loan Castleford Tigers pair Michael Knowles and Jason Payne continue in the forwards while Neil Thorman, Gateshead’s stand-out player in July, is named at full-back.
Gateshead’s game at London Skolars next week has been switched from the New River Stadium to Finchley.
GATESHEAD THUNDER: Thorman, Peers, Nash, Williamson, Stephenson, Clarke, Martin, Payne, Smith, Cakacaka, Wooden, Knowles, Hyde. subs; (from) Till, Barron, Bradley, Frazer, Doherty.