In front of a healthy Boxing Day crowd of almost 400, the Rams began well but disintegrated as the second half saw the hosts take control and ultimately all three points.

Stainton Park, Radcliffe
Boxing Day Monday 26 December 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 384 

Playing downhill and with the wind at their backs, the visitors looked comfortable as the half progressed, and had a goal chalked off as early as the seventh minute for a push on the keeper.

Aaron Hollindrake came close to opening the scoring when a fine through ball from Josh Askew had the striker running into the area, but his close range effort was well tipped over, although in sporadic attacks, Martin Fearon, making a welcome return in the Rams goal, had to deal with a couple of useful efforts from the home team.

The visitors did finally open the scoring on 23 minutes, as a free-kick played into the area caused confusion, and at the second attempt, Ryan Salmon stretched to head the ball goalwards, and despite the efforts of the home keeper Tadhg Ryan, it found its way in.

As the half drew to a close, new signing Max Hazeldine was denied by Ryan, and the general feeling was that the Rams should have gone in with more than a one goal lead.

Events in the second half proved that theory to be correct.

Battling against the elements and pitch, the visitors conceded too much space, as, despite the best efforts of Grant Spencer, the midfield was almost non-existent.  Radcliffe were playing the neat passing game, putting the Rams defence under pressure whilst attack-wise, it was a case of pump it up and hope.  Alas, on too many occasions any hope of such a tactic succeeding was extinguished by the sight of the assistant referee’s flag.

On one rare foray into the home penalty area, Hollindrake wasted a good opportunity by firing high and wide, and shortly afterwards, on 56 minutes, the scores were level.  A low cross in from the right was flicked home at the near post by Elliot Rokka, and it was no more than Radcliffe deserved.

From then on the game flowed almost incessantly towards the Rams goal, and two minutes from the end of normal time, Fearon produced a save every bit as good as the one that has gone down in Rammy folklore (the extra-time effort at Bamber Bridge in the play-off final), as he somehow managed to tip what looked to all and sundry like a certain goal, onto the post and scramble it away.

It looked as though a point was about to return to east Lancashire, but with five minutes of added time played, yet another neat one-two in the area, saw Borough’s substitute Timmy Raheem, on the wrong side of Damian Green, whose attempt to clear the ball saw the forward sprawled on the deck leaving the referee with little option but to point to the spot.

As calm as you like, Jack Hindle stroked the ball home, giving little time for a comeback, which, on the showing of the second half, would have been unlikely.

So the bragging rights of this derby clash remain at Radcliffe until the Rams have a chance of reclaiming them back at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium at Easter.

Radcliffe Borough: Tadhg Ryan, Calum Grogan, Jack O’Leary, Lassana Nalatche (capt), Jacques Kpohomouh, Darren Torpey, Daniel Burns, Stanislav Zhekov, Raul Corriea, Conor Ready, Elliot Rokka.  Subs: Frank van Gils (for Ready 47mins), James Etherington, Nick Kennedy, Jack Hindle (for Kennedy 70mins), Kyle Haslam, Timmy Raheem (for Torpey 64mins)

Ramsbottom United: Martin Fearon, Bradley Roscoe, Josh Askew, Dean Stott (capt), Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Max Hazeldine, Grant Spencer, Ryan Salmon, Aaron Hollindrake, Sam Freakes.  Subs: Oliver Crankshaw (for Hazeldine 90mins), Damian Green (for Hollindrake 66mins), Adam Kay (for Freakes 75mins), Matthew Atherton, Nat Taylor.

PICTURES (courtesy of Frank Crook):

Friday 30th December – HOME v Kendal Town (7.45pm)
Monday 2nd January – HOME v Clitheroe (3pm)

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