BARNSLEY’S two highest-placed non-league football clubs meet tonight from 7.45pm as Athersley Rec host Penistone Church in front of what they hope will be a bumper crowd.
Rec are currently bottom of the NCEL Premier Division but one of their two victories this season was in September at Church who are eighth out of 20.
Tickets are £2.50.
Athersley manager Jimmy Whitehead, whose first game was the win in Penistone, said: “These are the sort of games we all get up for. We switched it to a Friday to try to get a bigger crowd.
“We didn’t want it to clash with the Barnsley game on Saturday.
“Both clubs agreed to it. We’d expect to get a few hundred people there.
“I think Penistone get about 300 for their home games so if we can get something similar to that, it would be great.
“Penistone have picked up and they are on a decent run of form.
“We’ll be looking to do the double.
“The lads will take confidence that we beat them last time. We’re ready to have a good performance at home because we seem to be getting all our points away.
“Penistone’s manager took over at a similar time to me.
“We get on quite well and speak regularly to help each other about opponents in the league if one has played them and the other is just about to play them.
“The two clubs have always had a decent relationship.”
Ian Richards was the Church boss when they lost at home to Athersley, before moving to Stocksbridge Park Steels the next day.
Stephen Lenthall then took over.
His assistant John Whitehead said: “We will definitely be looking to right some wrongs from the last performance against them.
“We have a different mindset now and a different way of playing.
“We will show Athersley the respect they deserve because they have already turned us over once this season.
“Rec are young and energetic, Jimmy has got them playing the right way with good football. It’s a banana skin we don’t want to slip on again.
“We’ll go there full of confidence on the back of two very good wins.
“We have a very good squad who are hungry to win this local derby.
“We played on Tuesday so it is two games in a short space of time but, if we win, we go up to sixth.”
Church won 2-1 at second-bottom Hemsworth MW on Tuesday.
Nathan Keightley opened the scoring midway through the first half.
Hemsworth levelled just after the hour but Ryan Johnson won it two minutes later. Church have 26 points from 18 games.
John Whitehead said: “I think we deserved the win. We should have been further in front at half-time but they came back and scored a great goal.
“We dug in and showed we’re quite good at both sides of the game – playing with the ball and grinding out wins.
“People will question whether it should have been postponed but we got the win and we’re up to eighth.”
Rec’s game at home to Sherwood Colliery was called off on Saturday.
They have nine points from 20 games and are four adrift of safety.
A restructuring of the leagues means that there is only one guaranteed relegation space after there was expected to be two.
Jimmy Whitehead said: “It looks like only the bottom team will get relegated, then a couple of the second-bottom teams who have the lowest points in all the leagues.
“We just have to cut the gap and, if we win against Penistone, it will put pressure on the teams above us.
“We’ve had some good performances in the last weeks. We got beaten in injury-time by Grimsby Borough who are top, when we had ten men for 35 minutes, then a couple of days later we drew 1-1 at Eccleshill who are second.
“So there are a lot of positives in those performances. But, on derby day, form goes out the window.”
Worsbrough Bridge won 3-2 at home to second-placed Brigg Town in Division One on Tuesday.
Bridge are now seventh with 34 points from 20, which is the halfway stage.
Conor Glavin put Worsbrough in front then, after Brigg levelled, Lewis O’Connor made it 2-1 on the stroke of half-time and Luke Francis added another. Brigg replied but lost.