Gateshead defender Craig Baxter is hopeful of seeing the season out in the Heed’s starting XI following a frustrating period.
Having started just one game in 2016 heading into March, the 29-year-old has now completed all 90 minutes in each of the Tynesiders’ last four outings.
Baxter entered the fray as a half-time substitute against Forest Green Rovers at the International Stadium last month, playing his part in a much-improved second-half performance.
Gateshead then picked up back-to-back clean sheets against Braintree Town and Welling United away from home, before their deflating defeat to Macclesfield Town on Good Friday.
Baxter was encouraged by the Heed’s late rally at Lincoln City on Monday, however, with Danny Johnson snatching a point for Neil Aspin’s side with a well-taken strike.
And, with just a handful of games remaining this term, the popular full-back is keen to remain in the thick of the action as the Tynesiders look to sign off on a positive note.
He said: “Obviously, we were disappointed by Friday’s result. Losing 3-0 at home can never be a good thing, but there was a bit of a reaction at Lincoln and we managed to salvage a draw.
“It’s never nice to go behind in a game, but we dug deep and we found the equaliser.
“We managed to stay in the game – Sam made a couple of decent saves, and I thought we finished as the stronger of the two teams.
“I thought we worked hard, and getting a point away from home is always a decent result, so fair play to the lads for that.
“When you’re not playing, it’s always frustrating, but I’m the sort of lad who will just keep my head down and keep plugging away.
“But, football can change overnight. Things happen – players can pick up injuries, and others that may be here on loan can go back to their parent clubs.
“I’ve managed to get back into the team, and I’d like to think I can hold down my place and see the rest of the season out.
“To come back in and keep clean sheets against Braintree and Welling was pleasing for me.
“Four points away from home was a very good return, but Friday was a disappointing day all round.
“We have to keep working at it, though, and hopefully we can make up for it on Saturday.”
Though Gateshead are up against it in their quest to claim a top-five berth, they do at least appear well-placed to improve on last season’s accomplishments.
Under Gary Mills, the Heed finished tenth in the standings, with 66 points to their name.
As they enter the final month of the current campaign, a win against Torquay United on Saturday will draw the Tynesiders level with last year’s haul.
Having lost eight times at the International Stadium, however, Baxter believes it is clear to see where he and his teammates have fallen short.
Gateshead have accrued just 28 points on home soil this term, in stark contrast to their form on the road – where only title-chasing duo Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers can boast a better record.
With another two sides still to visit Tyneside after Saturday, a determined Baxter is targeting a strong finish to the Heed’s home campaign.
He said: “After the game on Monday, the gaffer pointed out that our away record had been up there among the best in the league this season.
“If we’d been able to match that at home, we’d have been right in the mix going into our last five games.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been as consistent at home as we have been on our travels. It’s hard to say why, and it’s a shame we haven’t reproduced the same quality.
“We’ve got three home games left to play, and hopefully we can take maximum points.
“It isn’t going to be easy – as this league proves every year, anyone can beat anyone on any given day.
“The teams that are up there at the end of the season are the most consistent.
“Torquay are in a relegation battle, and we know they’ll be fighting for their lives.
“They’re going to be scrapping for every second ball and we’re going to have to match them, and hopefully we can come out on top.”