Gateshead one match from Wembley as club target FA Trophy final return

Gateshead were beaten in last year's FA Trophy final last year but are now looking to go one step further. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Gateshead are just one win away from a return to Wembley as they face Macclesfield in the FA Trophy semi-finals.

The Heed were beaten by Halifax Town in the Wembley showpiece in May last year but are determined to go one step further in 2024.

Much has changed since the final defeat with Rob Elliot replacing Mike Williamson in the hot seat but performances remain consistently good as they chase the same goal.

"For the lads that were here last year it obviously helps with being in this situation before," Elliot said. "There is a bit more hunger and appetite to be involved in the game

"Ultimately for us, it is just another step on the road for where we want to get to and what we want to achieve.

"Our approach this season has been to take things game by game, respecting opponents and just making sure no matter what the occasion is or who we are playing against that we perform to our levels and we win or lose on our terms."

Gateshead interim manager Rob Elliot. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The interim manager's views are shared by midfielder Ed Francis who has always dreamed of playing at Wembley.

"I think it is a really good opportunity," he told ITV Tyne Tees. "I think the boys are really excited because it is a good opportunity for us to go and play at Wembley. It's something every player wants to do and kids dream of doing that sort of thing. So for us to be this close and have this kind of opportunity is massive.

"We're really looking forward to it."

Gateshead go into the semi-final as favourites with Macclesfield two leagues below in the Northern Premier League. However, Elliot is not expecting an easy game given the success the away side have enjoyed in recent seasons.

The Silkmen are a Pheonix club, rising from the ashes of former football league side Macclesfield Town. The likes of Robbie Savage are on the club's board and they have received significant investment since they were founded in 2021.

Gateshead midfielder Ed Francis. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"Macclesfield aren't a step three team or club to be honest," Elliot said. "They've got some fantastic individuals that have been attracted to that level because of the stature of the club and what they have done in the last few years.

"So it's a bit false their position in terms of the step they are in and the players they've got. So we are under no illusions that this is a very good team, with very good individuals. They're playing really well and have huge momentum behind them.

"It will be a really tough game and definitely our toughest test in the competition so far."

Gateshead hope to make two trips to Wembley before the end of the season as they chase promotion to League 2. The club currently reside in the play-off places and would need to return to Wembley for the play-off final if they are to achieve their ultimate aim.

A win against Macclesfield could help set the club up perfectly for the run in.

"I hope so," Francis said. "At the start of the season, these were the goals that we set out and we're almost there. We've just got to keep doing what we've been doing all the way through and hopefully get it done."

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