Ramsbottom United made the short journey to bottom of the table neighbours Radcliffe Borough, and came away with a point in a game that really should have seen all three won.
RADCLIFFE BOROUGH 1-1 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED
After a frenetic opening half where both sides matched each other, the Rams, playing down the slope, totally dominated the second half, but failed to clinch the winner their play deserved.
The opening 45 minutes proved to be an arm-wrestle, as the game swung from end to end at a pace that never lessened.
An early cross by Dominic Smalley was intercepted by a Radcliffe defender with Lee Gaskell waiting to nod home, and Gaskell it was who then turned his man before firing just wide from the edge of the box.
At the other end Matthew Chadwick latched on to a poor clearance from Rams keeper Grant Shenton, but fired over.
More chances fell to the home side. Brad Robinson fired across goal after a fine move down the right wing, before Chris Thompson went close from 20 yards.
For the Rams, Jon Robinson neatly beat a couple of defenders, but his final shot was too weak to trouble Chris Cheetham in the home goal.
Another fine link-up down the right wing finally opened the scoring on 24 minutes. This time, the beneficiary, Robinson made no mistake as his fierce angled drive shook the back of the net, to give Radcliffe the lead.
The visitors replied with a free-kick from Owen Roberts that sailed a couple of feet over the bar, then fine play between Gaskell and Gary Stopforth set up Robinson, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by some desperate defending.
A Danny Warrender header from a corner was nodded off the line for another, and as the half time approached, Stopforth did find the net, but the referee had already blown for a foul on the keeper.
So after a fairly even first half, the visitors came out in more determined mood, and playing downhill, they took the game to the home side.
Warrender and Smalley combined down the right before sending in a low cross which was snatched off Robinson’s toes by the diving Cheetham. Robinson headed a Roberts cross inches wide, and Billy Priestley was unlucky to see his header cannon back off the post following a Grant Spencer corner.
Phil Dean’s rasping drive following a half-cleared corner sailed inches over the bar, as the home side were beginning to ride their luck.
That luck finally ran out following a double substitution on 67 minutes.
Within a minute the scores were level. Another fine piece of inter-play between Warrender and Stopforth saw the latter send in a low cross which found substitute, former Boro player, Tom Brooks, who gleefully poked the ball home from close range with his first touch.
Two minutes later, the home side was reduced to ten men. As Dean raced down the left wing, he was unceremoniously stopped by Radcliffe captain James Mullineux in such a fashion that the referee immediately produced the red card.
The Rams continued the assault on the home goal with efforts from Brooks, Jordan Hulme and Stopforth all unsuccessful, before Hulme was desperately unlucky in the final minute. Brooks fed him in the middle of the area, and as he hooked the ball goalwards it looked like the winner but unfortunately it sailed just wide of the post.
So a point apiece, but the general feeling amongst the large Ramsbottom following was that this was two points dropped.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Roberts, Stopforth, Dawson, Priestley, Smalley, Spencer, Gaskell(Brooks 67mins), Robinson(Hulme 67mins), Dean. Subs not used: Toth, Morley, Edghill