MATCH: Workington v Ramsbottom United
VENUE: Borough Park, Workington, CA14 2DT
COMPETITION: Pitching In Northern Premier League Division 1 West
DATE: Tuesday 14th September 2021
DISTANCE FROM RAMMY: 128 miles, 140 minutes
You can pay on the gate – adults £11, concessions £6, under 18s (ages 12-17) £3, under 11s £1
The master against the apprentice? The good cop against the bad cop? The past against the future?
However you want to describe it, the Rams head up to current league leaders Workington knowing who and what they are up against – their former manager Chris Willcock and a number of former players.
It is very hard not to feature that very fact in the preview of this game. It is pretty much what everyone is talking about!
Willcock, who led the Rams until just three weeks before the season when the Cumbrian side made him an offer he apparently couldn’t refuse against his former, long time, assistant manager Lee Donafee, who was entrusted with the Rammy reigns when the vacancy arose.
And fine players in Iyrwah Gooden, Ruben Jerome and Nico Evangelinos – although the latter has only featured twice in the league so far this season due to injury.
This Tuesday night fixture in the deepest, farthest north-west is the match of the season so far. The two top sides in the 2019/20 campaign before it was curtailed finally meet once again, even if the demographic of the fixture has changed.
The Rams head into this match on the back of a disappointing loss at bottom side Prescot Cables on Saturday while Workington are still unbeaten this season but have been held to two consecutive draws in their last two games, away at Trafford and home to mid-table Leek Town.
It promises to be quite some game with the Rammy boss keen for the attention to be turned firmly on the eleven wearing blue shirts rather than the two men in the respective dugouts.
STAT OF THE PREVIEW:
The Rams have never won at Borough Park. The Reds have never won at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium. Time for a record to go?
You can read all about the history between the Rams and Workington in our comprehensive “Have We Met” article, which is below:
There was one clear message coming from the manager ahead of this game. “This game isn’t about me”.
That was Lee’s opening line when we caught up with him ahead of the game on Tuesday night. “It is not about me and Chris, it’s about the lads on the pitch playing for us.
“Saturday was really frustrating as we had done the hard part getting back into the game and we were knocking on the door and then they scored. I thought the whole second half, it was about us. We had a good chat at half-time and came out fighting.
“We then missed a great chance to win the game, Prescot then go to the other end, get a free kick and rode their luck. It was very frustrating, considering the run we have been on.
“But Tuesday’s game gives us a chance to put it right with the turnaround being so quick.”
And he knows that everyone outside of Ramsbottom and Workington is classing this game as master and apprentice but Lee isn’t seeing it that way. “I will be defined by what I have done at the end of the season, not by one game.
“We have similar ambitions to Workington and they have been in a higher league than we ever have. We are still the underdog but if we want this game bad enough, then we will get the result. Maybe Saturday was a blessing for us. I’ll be asking the lads how big are their hearts.”
With Willcock already rather dismissing Ramsbottom in the post-match interview he did with BBC Radio Cumbria on Saturday (which you can watch below from 2m 30s onwards), the interest in the game is already turned up another notch.
“I have seen the interview where he just passes us by and says that Ramsbottom don’t matter to him. That’s fine, I don’t care. We know each other very well so it’s going to be a good game between two good teams.”
The team news is that Godwin Abadaki is out with a groin injury that could see him sidelines for six to seven weeks but Jake Thompson is edging closer to fitness again and could be named in the squad.
“As you would expect, there are a couple of lads who are struggling to get there with work but that is part and parcel of non-league football at our level and we can’t look at the travel and all that.
“I have just told the lads that get there when you can, give it your sole focus and don’t be stressful about it. The game will take care of itself.”
Kick off is at 7.45pm – yes, it is quite a distance but let’s get behind Lee’s side.