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Heed keeper Russell up for Mariners challenge

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Goalkeeper Sam Russell insists that Gateshead have nothing to fear as they prepare to welcome title-chasing Grimsby Town to the International Stadium on Saturday.

The Mariners arrive as the Vanarama National League’s form side, having won eight times in their last nine outings, shipping just three goals in the process.

Not since a narrow loss at Altrincham in August have Paul Hurst’s troops been beaten on the road, one of only two defeats away from home in the whole of 2015.

The Heed will be buoyed, however, by a four-match unbeaten stretch of their own.

A 2-0 win at Torquay United on Saturday saw Neil Aspin’s side close to within five points of a play-off place, with games in hand on a number of their rivals.

Russell feels the Tynesiders can take heart from their recent revival, and believes their likely billing as “underdogs” on Saturday could just work in their favour.

He said: “These are the games you look forward to when you read the fixture list at the beginning of the season.

“Realistically, nobody thinks we’ll get a result, which might well work for us in the end.

“We don’t fear anyone – we have nothing to fear.

“Our form is good, so we just have to prepare properly this week, and I don’t see why we can’t go into it with a lot of confidence.”

Russell registered his seventh clean-sheet of the campaign at Plainmoor on Saturday, his fourth shutout since Neil Aspin’s arrival as manager.

The stopper has been thrilled by the Tynesiders’ recent defensive improvement, and feels he is starting to recapture his best form.

He said: “We’re definitely looking more solid now.

“I think we always had the personnel to do it, but it’s a confidence thing which has spread throughout the team.

“I’ve had injuries myself, and to be honest, I probably shouldn’t have been playing for a good month or so because I needed to rest up.

“But now, I feel decent, and I’m getting my form back.

“The squad is great at the moment – Jamesy didn’t start on Saturday but he came off the bench and did very well.

“You just take each game as it comes – there’s nothing better than ending the season on a high.”

Source: www.gateshead-fc.com

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