Town forward Sam Jones is looking forward to pitting himself up against a former manager as the Mariners head to Port Vale in Sky Bet League Two tomorrow (3pm).
Russell Slade’s men take on the league’s 22nd-placed side at Vale Park, and Jones will be looking to impress in front of his former Gateshead manager Neil Aspin – who’s taking charge of his first game as Vale boss, following his appointment on Wednesday.
Speaking on iFollow Mariners, the 26-year-old – who is Town’s top-scorer in the league so far this season with four goals – said: “I suppose it was only January just gone when I’ve last seen him, but it’ll be good to see him and good to play against him.
“He was a good gaffer to me. He brought me in – the way he brought me in I massively respected – he took a punt on me from Alfreton.
“And pretty much when I kicked off with maybe a couple of goals, I think he almost just said ‘Just go and play, just go and do what you know you can do,’ and I think from that I gained more confidence each game.
“And in the end it got me a move to League Two, which I’m grateful for.”
And the attacker, who’s scored 11 goals in 27 league appearances for Town since joining from the Heed in January, thinks the Mariners’ opponents – who are currently winless at home in the league this season – will play 3-5-2 this weekend.
“We played that mainly when I was there [at Gateshead], I think Port Vale have played that all season anyway, so I’m pretty sure when we play them tomorrow he’s familiar with that formation so he’ll pretty much play that.
“They’ll be working hard. With Neil Aspin, when I was with him at Gateshead, he expects a lot from the players – to work hard, to be organised, to concentrate throughout the whole of the game.
“And obviously it’s the first game playing under the manager, so they’ll obviously all want to be impressing him.
“They’re going to be approaching the game completely different tomorrow, and I think that’ll help us. If we walk into this game thinking ‘They’ve not won at home,’ I think maybe we’d have a little bit of a shock.
“But I think because we know that they’re going to be up for it, we know it’s a big pitch – we’re going to have to work hard, cover a lot ground.
“But I do think because we understand what’s going on at the club, I think we’ll walk into the game knowing it’s not going to be easy but we do have a good chance.”
And despite being in his career-best goalscoring form to the start of a season, Jones added that he’s more concerned about the team’s performances than his own individual achievements.
“I’m not as pleased as what I’ve been in previous seasons, just because I think we’ve got a lot more to offer from this team points-wise, and where we should maybe be in the league.
“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best season I’ve had before – I’ve got to keep working, keep focused, keep working hard with the team.
“So I think as soon as we start to put that right, then I’ll start to have a bit more confidence in the season and how I’ve started.”