AFC Telford United welcome Gateshead to the New Bucks Head aiming to build on their promising unbeaten start to the league campaign, writes Lewis Cox.
Cowan’s men have already done a number on one of the league’s promotion hopefuls, after seeing off Brackley 3-0 on the opening night a fortnight ago, and now have their targets set on The Heed, managed by former Wolves defender Mike Williamson.
Gateshead, who began by winning at Bradford Park Avenue before losing narrowly to another big-hitter in AFC Fylde, lost a play-off semi-final thriller 5-3 at Boston United in July when the National North campaign was concluded.
Cowan, whose charges are looking to recover and regain some momentum after a last-gasp setback at Blyth last week and Tuesday night’s FA Cup spot-kick exit at Leiston, is expecting a meeting between two top sides
“They’re a 4-3-3, very good in possession and rotation through the centre of the pitch,” Cowan said of the Tyneside visitors.
“They have good wingers and a good focal point up front – I’m making them out to be Barcelona here! No, they are a good side.
“They are going to be very difficult, they were unfortunate not to get anything from the game against Fylde.
“They will be another different challenge in that they are very creative, with a will to win, they have a good mix.
“They will be a force this year. So I’m really excited, because we will be a force as well, so the two teams will put their wits against each other.”
The Telford chief insists he has little criticism to level at his side’s performance in the last two games. Cowan’s men should have been out of sight after spurning a hatful of chances in both Northumberland and Suffolk.
He has called on centre-forward pair Aaron Williams and Jason Oswell to be more ruthless, but also included the deeper duo of James Hardy and Adam Walker in that bracket.
Asked if the Bucks would be required extra work on their finishing, however, and Cowan insists he would not ‘patronise’ his goal-getters.
“Repetition is a good thing,” Cowan said. “Practice makes permanent is something I’ve heard quite a lot.
“There will always be development but ultimately they are brought into a team like AFC Telford because they are expected to convert chances.
“We’ll work on it, for the repetition of getting in the right space and hitting the back of the net. We’ve got some good finishers at the club and we’ve created a lot of chances.
“Now they’ve just got to relax, as I always say go play with freedom and courage and enjoy yourself.
“When the moment presents itself seize it, make sure you are ruthless and clinical enough.
“I won’t be patronising them. I was a centre-half, I couldn’t hit a barn door, I won’t patronise them about how to finish, but just relax and hit the back of the net.
“With the strikers we’ve had at the football club we need to be converting. I suppose the difference with this group is that mentally these lads can deal with it, they enjoy the pressure and expectation.”
The familiar figure of James Montgomery will be between the sticks for The Heed in a contest available to stream online via the club’s YouTube channel for fans.