Redcar Athletic hit the road once again, with North Shields poised to offer their toughest test yet.
Bruised by Tuesday night’s contentious defeat, the Steelmen have no time to wallow in their pity, as a trip to Tyneside holds an even greater ask.
The Robins won promotion as champions in the Steelmen’s first season in division one, but faced the drop at the end of their last campaign due to ground grading infringements.
The Tynesiders finished 7th in the Northern Premier League East – a fantastic debut season – but failed to undergo the necessary stadium renovations, at the expense of their place in the division.
A side resolute and tenacious, Gary Forster will be astutely aware of the threat North Shields pose, and the challenge that presents to his hurting roster.
Redcar’s stellar September form came crashing down in Durham on Tuesday evening, at the hands of the usual suspects at West Auckland, with the manner of the defeat a hit to their brimming confidence.
A win this afternoon would prove a statement of intent to the rest of the division, and a welcome reboot to the Steelmen’s momentum, but one thing is guaranteed, it will NOT be easy.
Here’s everything you need to know about our tenth Northern League match of the season…
WHO ARE YA?
Formed in 1896 as North Shields Athletic, the Tyneside outfit prove one of the oldest clubs in the division.
A force to be reckoned with in North East football, Athletic – as they were then known – transcended the pyramid from the South Shields and District League, before the Great War hampered their success.
In 1928, Preston Colliery FC emerged, a club which would later be renamed to form the North Shields AFC that exists today.
The Robins enjoyed extensive local support in their early days, with over 12’000 watching the derby with South Shields in 1936.
Their pinnacle of success, however, came at Wembley in 1969, as goals from Richie Hall and Brian Joicey clinched the FA Amateur Cup over current football league side, Sutton United.
North Shields went on to turn their Amateur Cup triumph into a historic double, as Adam Forster netted the winning goal in the FA Vase final, as the Robins overturned an early deficit to sink Glossop North End by the same scoreline.
The Tynesiders most recent contribution to their history books is rather less favourable, as a strong season in the second division of the Northern Premier League was marred by an inability to meet ground grading, and one of the clubs’ greatest modern achievements was all but wiped out.
LAST TIME OUT
A stern test for a then newly-promoted Redcar, the two sides’ last encounter at the Daren Persson Stadium was under very different circumstances.
Awarded a points-per-game promotion across two curtailed seasons, and having scraped past Northallerton Town at Green Lane on the opening day, Athletic travelled to Tyneside as the Robins looked to open their promotion campaign for the home crowd.
The Steelmen ended the afternoon deflated, coming out on the wrong end of a devasting seven-goal thumping to the eventual-champions, a result which dented the club’s opening stint in the division.
At Green Lane, the Robins found a much greater resistance, as Redcar Athletic pushed the title-chasers to their limits.
North Shields grafted their way to a narrow victory on the Redcar seafront on that afternoon, a result acres away from the rout north of the Tyne in the opening week.
In fact, Redcar Athletic could be credited with deciding the title-race in favour of their Tyneside counterparts, as aside from the gift of a full six points, the Steelmen twice defeated their rivals, Consett, to open the door for Shields in the latter stages of the season.
The Steel Cup – as it became known – between Redcar and Consett fell rather shockingly into the grasp of the Teessiders, whose first season struggles had no bearing on the match whatsoever.
Isaac Walker starred in an impressive double over the title-favourites, not only clinching survival for Steve Connolly’s side, but handing promotion back into the hands of the chasing Robins.
A stellar September hit a stumbling block in midweek, as the Steelmen’s fine form was halted by West Auckland Town.
Admittedly, Redcar are still yet to pick up even a point from Darlington Road, a ground which seems to be cursed as far as the seaside outfit are concerned, but the loss still put a dampener on an otherwise perfect month.
WATCH | West Auckland Town 2-1 Redcar Athletic
The Robins are actually looking to bounce back from defeat to West Auckland too, having not played since their disappointing Isuzu FA Vase loss last weekend.
In the Northern League, Shields have fared rather indifferently, celebrating their play-off position at present, yet only three points clear of the Steelmen, meaning a win today could see the two sides level in the division.
The road to recovery continued in midweek for both Donny Holdsworth and Joe Ferguson, as the duo featured in a resounding win for the reserves over Thirsk Falcons.
That step further on his comeback trail, Joe Ferguson got himself amongst the goals on Wednesday night, having already made a short cameo for the first team in the Isuzu FA Vase, against Padiham.
NEWS | Holdsworth and Ferguson given valuable game time in emphatic reserves win.
Both are set to travel with the squad to Tyneside this afternoon, though the part they could play will be minimal, if that.
On Tuesday night, both were in the dugout as the Steelmen fell to a frustrating defeat to West Auckland Town, where the red card was brandished three times towards those of a Redcar persuasion.
Whilst all dismissals are subject to appeal by the club, neither Forster and Onions, or Anthony Bell, are serving a suspension this afternoon.
Fancy an afternoon in the Toon? Here’s everything you need to know if you’re joining the Steelmen for their encounter with the tenacious North Shields.
FINDING THE DAREN PERSSON STADIUM
Fans joining the Steelmen north of the Tyne can use the postcode NE29 0SS to find the Daren Persson Stadium, where limited parking is available.
North Shields Football Club advise fans that parking is available on the adjacent West Percy Road, and in the surrounding area.
Those using public transport will find the ground closest to Waterville Road (East) by bus, or Meadow Well, on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Travelling fans driving to the ground via the Tyne Tunnel must remember to pay the toll online by midnight the next day to avoid a fine.
Admission to the Daren Persson Stadium is priced at £8 for adults, £5 for concessions, and £1 for those under 16, and to be paid by CASH ONLY.
Gates will open around 1:30pm, ahead of kick-off at the standard time of 3:00pm.
A matchday programme will be available on the turnstile, at the price of £2.50.
Whilst the turnstile is cash only, the bar should be welcoming to fans using cash or card.
ISUZU FA VASE FOOTBALL AT GREEN LANE
On the back of one historic Isuzu FA Vase clash at Green Lane, another follows suit, as Redcar Athletic welcome Silsden to the Redcar seafront.
The Northern Counties East League table-toppers sent fellow Teessiders Billingham Synthonia packing in the second qualifying round, and will make for a tough test on yet another ground-breaking day for the town.
Find out more: Ticket details to be announced at a later date.