On a bitterly cold night, Ramsbottom United welcomed struggling Ossett Albion to the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.
The side from west Yorkshie were bottom of the table and looking likely relegation candidates, but fought for their lives as they stood firm to repel everything the Rams could throw at them.
After a score-less first half, joint-manager Anthony Johnson observed “These are the kind of games when you have to be patient. We’ll carry on taking the game to them and hope that they eventually tire. If they do, we’ll probably score two or three”.
For almost an hour the home side failed to pierce Albion’s rearguard, but once they managed it, another goal followed in quick succession.
Despite much of the possession, clear-cut chances were at a premium for the Rams.
Billy Priestley was inches over the bar following Grant Spencer’s hanging cross, before a run down the right by Spencer saw him skip past Albion keeper Adam Rhodes. His cross into the middle found Chris Denham in front of an empty goal, but a defender’s desperate lunge sent the ball wide for a corner.
Against the run of play, Ossett almost snatched the lead when Ben Brooksbank found space in the area, but his shot rebounded back into play off the foot of the post.
Rhodes was on hand to deal with a Spencer free-kick, whilst Owen Roberts, from a similar position, used the swirling wind to his advantage as he sent the ball in and over everyone in the area, but, unfortunately for him, it also cleared the crossbar.
Darren Green saw his angled drive palmed away by Rhodes as the first half ended goal-less.
The Rams continued their patient build-up, and a fine cross field move involving Jordan Hulme and Spencer, saw the former unlucky to see his shot blocked, before Spencer fed Phil Dean on the left hand side of the area, but Rhodes managed to deflect the goal-bound shot over the top.
The pressure finally paid off after 58 minutes.
A low ball in from the right beat everyone, but as it was returned from the left hand side, Spencer was in the right place to tuck it home from close range, to finally make the breakthrough.
Three minutes later, and it was, in effect, game over.
Hulme played a delightful one-two with Green, before blasting the ball home from the edge of the box, giving Rhodes no chance.
Ossett continued to defend in numbers, whilst relying mainly on breakaways, but those forays into the Rams half rarely looked like producing a goal.
As the Rams continued to have most of the possession, Hulme, Spencer and Green all attempted to increase the lead, but in the end those two quick-fire goals were sufficient to gain all three points, against a team that look anything but relegation certainties. In the two games against the Albion, the Rams have had to be at their best to gain all three points, but this was a game that proved that perseverance can pay off.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Hulme, Roberts, Stopforth, Pilkington, Priestley, Spencer(Warburton 83mins), Burton, Green(Bradbury 88mins), Denham(Toth 45mins), Dean. Subs not used: Smith, Morley