Ex-Newcastle United defender reveals what he's told Gateshead squad ahead of huge FA Cup tie with Charlton Athletic

Gateshead player-manager Mike Williamson has issued a rallying call to his squad ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup second round tie against Charlton Athletic.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 9:27 am
Gateshead host Charlton Athletic tonight. Pic by Charles Waugh.

The former Newcastle United and Wolves centre-back has led the Heed to within 90 minutes of a possible meeting with a Premier League giant for the first time since 2017.

Their meeting with the Addicks provides Williamson’s side with an opportunity to pull off a major shock in front of large crowd at the International Stadium and a watching audience after the tie was selected for live television coverage.

Gateshead go into the game in strong form and currently sit in fifth place in the National League North after suffering just two defeats in their opening 12 games of the season.

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However, their meeting with a Charlton side sat three levels above them in the football pyramid provides the Heed with their toughest challenge yet.

Williamson remains confident about the prospects of securing a place in Monday’s third round draw and insisted his side “wholeheartedly” believe they can cause a shock.

“Ninety five percent of our focus is on us,” he explained.

“They’ve got huge Premier League experience in their squad, regardless of their form, that goes out of the window.

“I think it’s going to be a really big game for themselves as a club.

“(They have) a young manager as well, who is trying to make an impression and it would be a huge achievement for himself to have a good cup run.

“Ultimately, it’s our focus on us, how we prepare, how we go about it because we generally believe, wholeheartedly, we can beat anyone.”

Despite last weekend’s FA Trophy exit at the hands of AFC Fylde, Gateshead’s preparations for Friday’s game have gone smoothly.

It has been, as Williamson explained, business as usual, despite the high-profile nature of the tie.

“We are trying to keep the focus on it’s preparation as usual,” explained the former Newcastle United.

“We’ve got optimum ways of preparing to make sure we are ready.

“We have big games coming thick and fast.

“This obviously has a special edge, but for us, it’s just about making sure we are prepared and ready to get to the levels we need to get to.”