TWO BARNSLEY clubs with lofty ambitions for the future are due to meet in a derby tonight.
Leaders Dearne and District are set to play at their home stadium, Goldthorpe Recreation Ground, from 7.45pm against AFC Elite, who are based in Cudworth, in the Central Midlands League.
Dearne chairman Antonio Jamasb said: “It should be a good crowd.
“For our evening games this season we have had good crowds – the smallest being about 350 and the biggest being over 700.
“We have been playing attractive football which brings people to watch.”
Elite drew 1-1 at home to SJR Worksop. They are fifth with 16 points from nine games. Their manager Shane Pallett said: “We played them at home and lost.
“We’d like to be the first team to take points off them this season.
“It’s a great derby and good experience for our young side, hopefully in front of a big crowd. It’s good to see Dearne being so successful. These are the tests we want to face and embrace.”
Elite were set up in 2020 as an under 18s side for private academy Doncaster Elite then, after winning their league, moved into senior football and won the second tier of the Central Midlands League. They play at the Dorothy Hyman Stadium in Cudworth.
Pallett said: “We changed our name because being called Doncaster Elite and playing in Barnsley didn’t mix.
“This season is to stabilise then hopefully we can compete for the title in the future. We have brought in a few more experienced players this season but our average age is about 22.
“Our first aim is to get to the NCEL and establish ourselves there.
“The second aim is to bring the Cudworth community together because, at the moment, we are a bit unknown.
“It takes time but we play entertaining football so hopefully people will enjoy watching us.
“It’s a good stadium and I think we would fit the criteria now for the NCEL.”
Dearne are top with 11 wins from as many games, as well as a plus 41 goal difference. They won 5-1 at Kiveton on Saturday with Baz Lowe hitting a hat-trick and Curtis Wilkinson netting twice.
They are six points clear in first place and hoping to finish top in order to move into the Northern Counties East League, having missed out last season by finishing second.
Jamasb said: “We basically rebuilt in the summer. We changed the management team and the whole structure.
“Instead of focusing on signing the best players from the league above, we’re focusing on getting the best young players from the Dearne area.
“I think 90 per cent of our first team squad now lives within two miles of the club. It’s been quite successful so far.
“We have had 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds playing.
“Probably missing out last year helped us in terms of giving us time to work on our ground. We have a stand up now and other improvements we need to get into the league above.”