It's into the lair of the invincibles for Redcar Athletic, as a date with league-leaders, Shildon AFC, awaits.

Without defeat in the Northern League, Shildon look set to return to the Northern Premier League East on their first attempt.

In the face of both the division’s most potent attack, and steadfast defence, this afternoon’s contest promises to be Redcar Athletic’s toughest test yet.

Liam Jarvie celebrates his first-half hat-trick against Newcastle Benfield with Layton Watts. (Photo: Trevor Wilkinson)

Still, the Railwaymen will have concern over the little seaside outfit, as a romping eight goal victory over Newcastle Benfield leaves the Steelmen in good standing.

A hat-trick for Liam Jarvie fired Redcar to an afternoon to remember, whilst a tactical switch at the back limited the Lions to a lone shot at goal.

First team boss, Gary Forster, will hope his side can utilise that momentum, as even taking a point off the riotous league-leaders has proved a feat to be remarked.

Here’s everything you need to know as the Steelmen enter the home of table-topping Shildon…

WHO ARE YA?

Formed in 1890 as Shildon Town, the Railwaymen burned through a number of mergers, and temporarily folded, before the inception of the Shildon AFC that exists today.

After a short stint in the semi-professional game, Shildon joined the Northern League, wining a commendable four successive titles before the second world war, a record only over-hauled by Blyth Spartans in 1984.

Still, their greatest success has come in the past three seasons, as a points-per-game promotion saw the Railwaymen grace step four on the English footballing pyramid for the first time in 2021.

Dean Street Grandstand. (Photo: Unknown)

Back in the Northern League for the 2023/24 campaign, Shildon still ply their trade at the historic Dean Street Stadium.

The long-standing home of the Railwaymen, the doors to the so-called J Denham Metals Stadium – and its impressive grandstand – opened in 1923.

The ground has undergone some hefty change since, with a new main stand erected on the opposite side of the pitch, but the gradure of its original structure remains intact to this day.

THE FIRST BOUT

On the back of a record first-win-in-five against Newcastle Benfield, Redcar Athletic will this afternoon open a new head-to-head account, having never before competitively graced the field alongside the Railwaymen.

In fact, this is the first season the two clubs have competed at the same level, with Shildon contesting the Northern Premier League East since the Steelmen’s induction into the division.

WATCH | Redcar Athletic 2-1 Bishop Auckland

Whilst the two sides have never locked horns, Redcar’s history with title-contenders could give some indication of hope ahead of their debut bout.

Across three seasons in the Northern League Division One, the Steelmen have regularly upset the table-toppers, none more recently than a 2-1 triumph over Bishop Auckland last season.

Redcar took four points off the Bishops to scupper their charge to the title, with a play-off defeat to Ashington eventually condemning the Two Blues to another season in step five.

More impressively, perhaps, the Steelmen twice sank league-leaders, Consett, in their inaugural season in division one, opening the door for North Shields to leapfrog the other Steelmen and steal top spot.

CURRENT FORM

With an emphatic eight-goal thrashing of Newcastle Benfield close in the rear view mirror, Redcar will have more faith than ever to upset the league-leaders.

Whilst still more inconsistent than the Great British weather, Gary Forster’s side will be brimming with a new breed of confidence at Dean Street this afternoon, with Shildon bound to be a little worried.

WATCH | Redcar Athletic 8-0 Newcastle Benfield

Admittedly, the Railwaymen have had their fair share of resounding victories, one of only two sides to outscore the Steelmen in the division this season.

Shildon have amassed a startling 49 goals in their opening 15 games, yet, more remarkably, have conceded a mere seven.

The current table-toppers have mellowed as of late, winning three consecutive games by four goals to nil, before reaching a stalemate with Guisborough Town, and squeezing past Boro Rangers at their new Phoenix Park.

TEAM NEWS

Once again, suspensions are due to hamper Gary Forster’s team selection this afternoon.

Layton Watts in action at BM Bi-Fold Green Lane. (Photo: Trevor Wilkinson)

A standout in last weekend’s thrilling eight-goal thrashing of Newcastle Benfield, Layton Watts picked up his fifth booking of the season in a fracas, and thus misses out on the trip into the lair of the league-leaders this afternoon.

The technical midfielder is joined on the naughty step by shot-stopper Jack Norton, who remains sidelined from an earlier suspension due to an FA charge.

Another looming consideration for the head coach is the formation, as a spur of the moment change after 15 minutes gave his side the edge over the reeling Lions.

Benfield failed to muster a mere shot on goal following the tactical switch at the back, so the boss could be tempted to utilise the strategy once again in hope of keeping one of the league’s most potent attacks at bay.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

En route to Shildon with us, or thinking of making the trip? Here’s everything you need to know, from admission, to travel.

FINDING DEAN STREET

The historic home of the title-favourites, the so-called J Denham Metals Stadium at Dean Street is just a 20-minute walk from the heart of Shildon.

By car, expect roughly a 50-minute drive (calculated from Green Lane), using the postcode DL4 1EZ.

Otherwise, travelling by train is an option, with Northern trains departing both Redcar East and Redcar Central on an hourly basis to the County Durham Town.

The two most applicable trains depart Redcar East at 12:09pm and 1:09pm, arriving in Shildon at 1:14pm and 2:14pm respectively.

ADMISSION

Entry to Shildon’s Dean Street Stadium is priced at £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, whilst children under the age of 16 go free with a paying adult.

Gates will open around 1:30pm as usual, with the game set to kick-off at around 3:00pm.

A matchday programme will be available online for the fixture, with no extra cost.

FOOD AND DRINK

Food and drink will be available at the stadium, as is customary.

Dean Street Stadium contains both a Drinks Hut and standard bar, both of which are believed to accept card, but it may be worth taking cash to be on the safe side.

NEXT UP AT GREEN LANE

Whilst the Steelmen are on their travels this afternoon, there’s a festive triple-header around the corner at Green Lane.

The home treble begins on Saturday 9th December, as Crook Town visit the Redcar seafront, with a Friday night derby, and this afternoon’s reverse fixture to follow.

Find out more: Redcar Athletic Fixture List

Luxury holiday homes and experts in holiday home management