RUSSELL Penn is planning to block out the emotion when he faces former club Cheltenham for York City tomorrow.
The 28-year-old midfielder, who drew the curtain on a two-and-a-half year career at Whaddon Road when he signed for the Minstermen last month, has admitted his previous meetings with old employees have sometimes got the better of him and the last four – against Burton and Scunthorpe – resulted in three defeats and a draw.
He was even substituted at the interval during one match against the Brewers after picking up a first-half yellow card but Penn is confident he can keep his feelings in check during the latest reunion.
On his thoughts about playing against his ex-team-mates, Penn said: “It will be strange because I did not really get to say goodbye to the lads due to the weather and games getting called off but I am just looking forward to getting on the pitch.
“I don’t have any points to prove to anybody at Cheltenham and just want to push on from Saturday’s result.
“In the past, when I have played old clubs, I’ve let it get on top of me, to be fair, but I am more experienced now and I’m just looking forward to picking up another three points.”
Only goal difference separates the two mid-table teams and, while Penn admits the hosts will need to be wary of 38-year-old veteran Jamie Cureton, who has 254 professional goals, he is confident City can collect maximum points.
Said the midfielder: “Cheltenham are disappointed with where they are but any game in this league is tough and they are a hard-working side with a good scorer in Jamie Cureton.
“He will be a real threat but, if we are at our best, we will be okay.
“We have gone above them in the last month which is good, so we just want to keep doing what we have been doing to grind out another result.”
City boss Nigel Worthington’s biggest selection poser could be whether to continue partnering Penn with Adam Reed in the centre of midfield, or recall Lewis Montrose after his two-game ban.
With Reed, Penn sits deeper in the Minstermen’s engine-room, while there is more of an attacking emphasis on the Dudley-born grafter if Montrose is selected.
The ex-England ‘C’ international revealed, however, he is comfortable in either role.
He said: “With Lewis, we had a great result at Northampton and then did all right against Bristol Rovers before he got suspended.
“Saturday’s game showed, however, that if anybody does come out of the team, we have players who can take their chance. I think Reedy’s done that but it’s up to the gaffer whether the team will change tomorrow.
“I am pleased to play with both of them and I think we have a bit of everything in midfield, so I am just glad to be doing as well as I can.
“As I am getting older, maybe I will become more suited to the anchor role but I don’t mind doing either job at the moment.”
Having taken on the skipper’s armband, donned by David McGurk since the now-departed club captain Chris Smith fell out of favour, Penn is also ready to continue in that capacity for as long as Worthington deems necessary.
Said Penn: “I filled in for TY because he was injured and it’s something I did at Cheltenham for 18 months so, if the gaffer wants me to have that responsibility again, so be it.”
On his suitability, he added: “I bring experience of the game as well as know-how and try to lead by example by giving 100 per cent.”
CHELTENHAM Town have made five previous Football League visits and have not lost at Bootham Crescent, winning four and drawing the other of those encounters.
The first meeting between the clubs at York was in 1999/2000 when the Robins won 2-1 and the following two seasons they triumphed 2-0 and 3-1.
In 2003/4, under the managership of former City boss John Ward, pictured left, they ran out 2-0 victors.
The corresponding fixture last term finished goal-less and City’s line-up on September 22, 2012 was: Ingham, Oyebanjo, C Smith (Bullock), Doig, Fyfield, Parslow, J Smith (McReady) (Blair), McLaughlin, Coulson, Walker, Chambers.
Along with Keith Lowe and Russell Penn, other players to have represented both clubs include Sam McNab, Neil Grayson, Mark Sertori and Paul Brayson.
It happened on February 8
1958: City suffered their heaviest post-war League defeat when they crashed 9-2 at Chester in Division Three North. The consolation goals were netted by Ernie Phillips and Terry Farmer. City had to play for much of the game without the injured Mick Granger with half-back Gordon Brown taking over in goal.
1964: A 2-0 home win over Bradford Park Avenue with Tommy Heron and Billy Rudd on the scoresheet. The crowd for this Fourth Division (League Two) game was 4,344.
1992: Wayne Hall was the marksman in a 1-1 home draw against Rotherham United in the Fourth Division (League Two) watched by 3,526.
1997: City won 2-1 at Burnley thanks to goals from Neil Tolson and Scott Jordan, pictured right, in Division Two (League One).
Compiled by David Batters