Derby day returns to Green Lane, as the Steelmen welcome Guisborough Town under the lights for a Friday night spectacular.
Separated by a mere seven miles – and by even less in the table – Redcar Athletic host their intrepid Teesside rivals in the second instalment of this season’s East Cleveland derby.
A budding rivalry still in its infancy, matters rest on a knife’s edge following a thrilling score-draw at the King George V Ground in September.
The Steelmen arguably boast the better form, yet will be dusting off the cobwebs to take to the field at Green Lane this evening, having last stepped foot on the hallowed turf in November.
Their East Cleveland counterparts, Guisborough Town have featured twice in that time, rounding off a dismal streak of three successive home defeats against Birtley Town last weekend.
With a lone win in six attempts, it would be easy for Redcar boss Gary Forster to underestimate the inconsistent Priorymen, but in the face of a fierce rivalry, precedent becomes almost irrelevant.
Here’s everything you need to know as derby day descends upon BM Bi-Fold Green Lane…
WHO ARE YA?
Celebrating a half-century of football this year, Guisborough Town are a club saturated in local heritage.
Four times champions of the North Riding Senior Cup – with their most recent secured by none other than Dave Onions – the Priorymen boast one of the most prestigious records across the Teesside non-league scene.
The club have played at their home on Howlbeck Road since their inception in 1973, attracting 3’112 fans to the ground in a record attendance in 1979, as they sank Hungerford Town in the FA Vase semi-final.
Guisborough would go on to face heartbreak at Wembley that season, losing to Stamford, before North Ferriby United scuppered their dreams of a Wembley return 20 years later.
For the past 38 seasons, the Sunderland-inspired red and white stripes of the Priorymen have featured in the Northern League, with the club falling short of promotion to the Northern Premier League on a couple of occasions.
Last year proved one of those opportunities for Guisborough, who flirted on the fringes of the title fight all season, before a poor run of form in the penultimate weeks saw them drop out of the top six, with their replacement none other than the Steelmen themselves.
LAST TIME OUT
On the back of a scintillating derby double last season, the two East Cleveland rivals contested a thrilling stalemate at the King George V Ground in the opening weeks of the campaign.
New man Liam Jarvie proved instrumental, slotting home an instant response to Ben Cummins’ ranged opener, before earning the spot kick from which Isaac Walker restored parity once more.
The draw proved the fifth meeting between Redcar and their Teesside counterparts, with two competitive wins apiece heading in to this evening’s eagerly anticipated sixth encounter.
Guisborough may well wish to forget their last visit to the ‘Theatre of (Ice) Creams’, as the reeling ten-men of Redcar Athletic proved rather not reeling at all.
Lambasted with the setback of Nathan Guru’s dismissal, and former Steelman McKenzie Dicicco’s resulting opener, Redcar responded with a second half tirade courtesy of Isaac Walker.
The forward combined with Donny Holdsworth to dash the Priorymen’s hopes – and their pride – with a clinical hat-trick, marking what then proved the Steelmen’s first victory in the derby.
Three weeks absent from competitive football, Redcar Athletic’s mounting impetus seems all but spurned.
Gary Forster had lauded the improving performances of his squad towards the back end of November – including a record-breaking eight-goal thrashing of Newcastle Benfield – but with a lack of valuable minutes, that momentum could quite well prove trivial.
WATCH | Shildon 1-1 Redcar Athletic
Redcar followed up the merciless thumping with a commendable performance in the den of the league-leaders, holding Shildon to a point courtesy of an early strike from Joe Thompson.
Often suspect at the back, Forster praised the ‘togetherness’ of his side defensively, admitting that similar showings against other clubs would most likely guide Athletic up the table.
Donning the red and white stripes of Sunderland, Guisborough Town are the protagonists of a very different tale.
The Priorymen visit Green Lane on a dreadful run of three consecutive losses, compounded by the comeback of Birtley Town at the King George V Ground last Saturday.
Jordan Fielding and James Frazer had Steve Bell’s men in good standing come the halfway mark, but a resurgent Hoops side proved too much for an ailing Town to compete with.
A rare phenomenon for head coach, Gary Forster – tonight the squad proves suspension free!
Enforced hiatuses have plagued the boss’s team selection for months, from the extended ban of first choice shot-stopper, Jack Norton, to the regular accumulation of bookings from many in the midfield, such as Anthony Bell, Brad Mills, and most recently Layton Watts.
This evening, the Redcar boss’s only headache comes through the absence of Adam Wheatley. The stalwart centre-half suffered a broken foot during the month of November, and is expected to remain outside of the squad for the remainder of the year.
As for his replacement, loan signing Lewis Ritson is likely to make his debut in red and navy.
An experienced defender in his own right, Ritson has plenty to give to his new side, having impressed at both Whitby Town and Hebburn Town in the early months of the season.
Attending Green Lane this evening?
Familiarise yourself with all of the important matchday information, from parking and admission, to our Christmas donations appeal.
Derby day is upon us, but there is still time to book your tickets in advance.
Pay-on-the-day is also available, as usual, with cash or card at the turnstile.