It's a trip to the Redcar seafront for Cumbrian outfit Penrith, who stand between the Steelmen and a third successive home win.
Following a weak start to the campaign at BM Bi-Fold Green Lane, Redcar Athletic could this afternoon make it nine points from a possible nine, should they see off a struggling Penrith.
Sat on the edge of the drop zone, the Blues have a lone three points this season – picked up against fellow relegation-threatened Tow Law Town – but should not be underestimated.
Their seventh consecutive campaign spent at the foot of the division, Penrith are no strangers to slogging it out in the hopes of survival, nor to pulling off a shock result against the Steelmen.
Last year, the Bonny Blues stunned the ten-men of Redcar in a classic away performance, albeit at Frenchfield Park, in a match which all-but secured their fate as a Northern League Division One club for yet another season.
All things considered, Gary Forster will be keen to avoid any complacency within his ranks, but will be optimistic of a positive outcome should his side play the football they have proved to be capable of.
Here’s everything you need to know about this afternoon’s Ebac Northern League match at BM Bi-Fold Green Lane…
WHO ARE YA?
Tucked away in the scenic Cumbrian countryside, Penrith are a club with a long-standing history with the Northern League.
Formed in 1894, the Blues played their trade in local and district leagues, before joining the Northern League ahead of the 1948/49 season, where they remained for almost 40 years.
The inception of the new North West Counties Football League drew the Cumbrians away from the division, with the promise of more local games an enticing prospect for a club marred with masses of travel.
Penrith’s greatest success has come outside of the league structure, with the club proud to boast 16 titles in the Cumberland County Cup, the most recent in 2010.
The Bonny Blues returned to the Northern League in 1997, seeing fluctuating fortunes across both divisions since.
Unfortunately, the club’s location is tantamount to their shortcomings, as chariman Billy Williams expressed to programme editor, Ash Stone.
“Geographically we struggle to sign experienced players,” Billy affirmed, “therefore we are left with a young squad.
“Other than against Shildon, all of our games have been tight affairs this season.”
“Every Northern League game is tough,” the Blues chairman continued, “but the welcome we receive at Redcar makes the journey worthwhile.”
Where doom and gloom once began to creep in, optimism is firmly back on the cards at BM Bi-Fold Green Lane.
Three games unbeaten on the Redcar seafront, a victory over the travelling Cumbrians today would signal a third successive home win, to accompany the emphatic thumping of both Sunderland RCA, and Padiham.
Last season, Green Lane saw more goals than any other ground in the division, and the Steelmen are certainly looking to repeat that feat in the new campaign.
With seven against Northern League strugglers, Ryhope, and five against Isuzu FA Vase opponents, Padiham, Redcar Athletic have certainly had a knack for the emphatic since their poor start over a month ago.
WATCH | North Shields 2-2 Redcar Athletic
On the road to close out September, Athletic’s fortunes proved rather less… well, fortunate.
Those with good memories will have been struck with fear at the prospect of visiting Darlington Road, a ground where West Auckland Town once again swept aside the Steelmen in a controversial manner.
What best denotes a team’s mentality, however, is how they respond to a setback, and with nine-man on the field, Redcar held on for a point against pre-season favourites, North Shields, in a thrilling affair on Tyneside.
LAST TIME OUT
In a league as unpredictable as the Northern League, position sometimes proves very little.
Despite fighting very different battles last season, from Redcar’s enticing climb towards the top six, to Penrith’s desperate scrap to survive, it was the latter who saw the better of the head-to-head.
GREEN LANE FRUSTRATIONS
At a blustery BM Bi-Fold Green Lane, a vastly different Redcar side were left to rue missed opportunities, as yet another ‘easier’ game ended in a stalemate, a goal apiece.
Former Steelman Paul Young notched Athletic’s opener, seeking the far bottom corner with a low, driven volley.
His effort ultimately proved in vain, as the Steelmen’s Achilles’ heel under Steve Connolly yet again proved fatal, as DJ Taylor slotted home from a corner.
DISASTER IN THE LAKES
Redcar Athletic’s visit to the Lake District was even less fruitful, as Danny Boyle’s first half double was overturned by a spirited Penrith.
The midfielder twice slotted the Steelmen in front on a bitterly cold evening in Cumbria, but each time the hosts had the perfect response just minutes away.
A rash challenge from Joe Thompson left Redcar to contend with a man disadvantage, and Alfie Brunskill capitalised, to all-but seal the Bonny Blues a place in the division for 2023/24.
Following the late introduction of Donny Holdsworth last weekend, Redcar Athletic now boast a clean bill of health heading into the month of October.
Admittedly, both Holdsworth, and summer signing Joe Ferguson, will need time to reach full match fitness, but even their presence in the matchday squad provides a massive boost to Gary Forster.
In fact, suspensions now provide the only selection dilemma for the Redcar boss, who will today face an important decision over who stands between the sticks.
A rash reaction from Jack Norton in the aftermath of North Shields’ shock opener left the shot-stopper to contend with yet another dismissal, of course accompanied by at least lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Forward James Sayer became his immediate replacement, rolling back the years to his youth spent as a goalkeeper with a couple of spectacular sprawling saves.
Of course, Forster will be reluctant to leave the young forward at the back once again, with his ability on the ball simply too big of a miss.
Instead, the remedy to the boss’s goalkeeping headache proved to be a short-term loan, and the introduction of young shot-stopper, Will Cowey.
Both adept and experienced for his age, Will is set to provide a worthy and reassuring presence to the Steelmmen’s backline, in the absence of the first choice number one.
Jack Norton isn’t the only player to face a suspension, as a second yellow card for Danny Boyle lambasts the midfielder with a one-game ban.
Boyle is joined on the sidelines by club captain Anthony Bell, who has to contend with four matches on the naughty step, for both his red card against West Auckland Town, and a fifth caution picked up against North Shields.
From programmes to admission, here’s all of your matchday information ahead of Penrith’s visit to Green Lane.
Fans can begin to make their way through the turnstiles at 1:30pm this afternoon, ahead of kick-off at 3:00pm.
Entry will cost £7 for adults, £4 for concessions, and £2 for u16s.
Memberships are once again valid for this fixture, but not for our other two home games this month.
Our new and improved ‘By the Sea’ matchday programme will be on sale as usual at the ground, and can be purchased from the turnstile for just £2.
The Steelmen’s bar will be open as usual, serving drinks before, during, and after the match.
Fans are advised that the bar is currently operating as a card only venue.
The club are once again collecting for the Redcar Area Food Bank, and any donations are both welcome and appreciated.
Let’s help make our area a better place, ourselves.
Jacob Diaz-Wright is the man on the mic this afternoon, and will be in the Steelmen’s bar before and after the game, providing the soundtrack to accompany your matchday experience.
Fancy a bite to eat?
As usual, the food will be provided by none other than Smokin’ Joe’s, who will be serving up their viral Hot Dogg and more from their pop-up stall in our FanZone.
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: Redcar Athletic vs Silsden