Gateshead defender Mike Williamson is relishing the pressure of trying to help the club reach the Vanarama National League play-offs.
Ben Clark’s side have made a mockery of pre-season predictions of a relegation battle and head into the final month of the campaign 10th place in the table, four points and three places behind Eastleigh, who occupy the last play-off spot.
Fellow play-off challengers AFC Fylde are the visitors to the International Stadium tonight and Williamson will return to the Gateshead squad after serving a three-match suspension.
And the former Newcastle United centre-back revealed that he thrives on pressure after starring in European nights, big Premier League clashes and promotion pushes at St James’s Park.
He said: “From my early-20s I have always flipped pressure into excitement.
“I think it’s an honour to have pressure, because if you have no pressure you have nothing to play for, so it is a privilege.
“Whenever that comes around in games and across the season, it drives us, and we relish it.
“The supporters may well reflect on the season as if positive one, even if we don’t make the play-offs but I don’t think it will be if we don’t get in there.
“We need to be realistic and we know we have a group of players here that are good enough to get in there.
“This is the business end of the season and it’s important that we make sure we are focused as a football club with the aim of getting into the play-offs and ending the season in a strong way.”
Williamson’s experience on and off the pitch has been essential in the progress made during a challenging campaign for the club which has seen off-field troubles, issues with wages and a protracted takeover.
“You have got a lot of players that are going through a relatively new experience,” he added. “That means it is down to us as coaches and as experienced players to keep on supporting them and to keep on working hard alongside them to do the best we can for the club.”