MATCH: Newcastle Town v Ramsbottom United
VENUE: The Red Industries Stadium, Buckmaster Avenue, Clayton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 3BX
COMPETITION: Northern Premier League West Division
DATE: Saturday 29th January 2022
DISTANCE FROM RAMMY: 64 miles, 65 minutes
Admission prices are on the gate – £9 adults, £6 concessions, children are free when accompanied by an adult. The Newcastle Town social club will gladly welcome fans before (opening at midday), at half-time and after the game.
The Rams hit the road for the first time in 2022, hoping for a change in fortunes and a change in momentum.
Standing in their way is our old foes from the NWCFL days, Newcastle Town, who are enduring a fairly similar season to ourselves, two places and one point ahead of us in 14th.
And they will surely be out for something of revenge as they were hit by a turbo-charged Rams back in the latter end of October when Jamie Rother, Tom Hartley, Hugo Rodrigues and Sam Twist all hit the scoreboard in a 4-0 home victory.
It has been slim pickings since that game though with just three victories in the next ten games but Newcastle have only collected two wins from their ten since then too.
The stats don’t make pretty reading. It is two sides amongst a handful that are looking tentatively over their shoulders but manager Lee Donafee was adamant that his side are “not in a relegation fight”.
“We have to look forward and two wins takes us into mid-table,” he admitted. “The game on Saturday will not be easy – they will be out to put right the game from October – but we have got a lot to work on and we have been very truthful in training this week.”
And more stats that point to an intriging game is that Newcastle have won just four of their 13 home games but the Rams have won only two of their 11 on their travels, scoring just seven goals in the process (the second lowest ahead of Market Drayton Town’s six).
So this game could be 1-0 or 7-6 either way … who knows! It promises to be a fascinating contest between two sides that are desperate for all three points.
STAT OF THE PREVIEW:
The Rams have only won two of their previous 10 meetings with Newcastle Town dating back to 2006 – but those two wins have seen us win 6-0 and 4-0, both coming since we locked horns again in the NPL.
LEAGUE FORM GUIDE (most recent game first):
Ramsbottom United: L L L L W L
Newcastle Town: L D W L W L
You can read all about the history between the Rams and Newcastle Town in our comprehensive “Have We Met” article, which is below – which just needs updating with the 4-0 win in the reverse fixtures at the HWRS back in October.
Manager Lee Donafee is always a positive man. He took on the Rams managers role at very short notice following Chris Wilcock’s swift departure just two weeks before the season started.
But he cut a man on a mission when speaking to him for this preview.
“I have got the players in this squad but we continue to make the same mistakes again and again. We had a lengthy team meeting on Thursday night where I put my cards on the table.
“We have had a different kind of session Thursday night and I don’t think there will be a need for a team talk on Saturday. Hopefully the penny will drop but we need a break, from somewhere.”
The last four games have been a case in point. In all of them, his side has been in the game but conceded within the last 10-15 minutes to see valuable points slip away.
A 90th minute goal at Trafford scuppered any chance of salvaging a point, a 79th minute winner against Mossley, the same in the 78th minute against Bootle and 1-1 at 86 minutes against Runcorn Linnets become a 3-1 defeat.
“It is all about game management,” he continued. “I don’t think it is a fitness issue, it’s about concentration, seeing the game out.
“I can’t fault the effort but I have got to put pressure on the lads to get the result because we need to turn things around. One win in seven games is not acceptable.”
Player of the Month for October, Steve Hoy, has left the club on a dual registration to join NWCFL side Lower Breck due to work commitments. “Unfortunately, Ste wasn’t able to commit to us because of work but he is still signed with us and if anything changes, he will come back.”
New signing Colin May has had to return to Ireland so isn’t available for the trip down the M6 but the squad should look similar to that from seven days ago.
“I am talking to a couple of experienced lads as we just need a couple of old heads to help the younger lads through but they probably won’t be signed in time for tomorrow.”