With a record of five wins and five defeats from their first ten matches so far this season, the Rams have been slower to the draw than Gary Cooper at the OK Corral but will have come away from this fiercely contested match content with a point that puts them up into fifth position.
For long periods Curzon dominated possession without ever being able to muster any concerted pressure against a well-organised Rams team benefiting from the welcome return of Gary Stopforth and an increasingly confident central partnership of Steve Howson and Cedric Krou. The only clear cut chance in the first 45 minutes fell to Jordan Hulme, who was released into the box following an exchange of slick passes with Tom Williams only to slice his shot wide. Apart from that, neither goal was threatened until Grant Shenton was forced into a smart save from Niall Cummins on the stroke of half-time.
A flurry of substitutions shortly after half-time gave the Rams some control. Scott Burton on for Tom Williams managed to force the Rams higher up the pitch and they were rewarded with a goal after 62 minutes when Jordan Hulme took advantage of some indecision on the part of Hakan Burton in the Curzon goal to nick the ball away and square it back to Grant Spencer who slid the ball into the empty net.
Osebi Abadaki, who generally found possession hard to come by, almost doubled the lead four minutes later carving out space on the edge of the box to get away a shot destined for the top corner until palmed away by the keeper. The superiority was short lived, however.
All too often this season, the Rams have gifted goals from careless distribution in their defensive third and free-kicks conceded around the box and general vulnerability from set pieces. Tonight was no different and after 71 minutes, a combination of the two resulted in Matthew Warburton’s well-crafted free-kick curled in around the wall from 25 years out.
On 73 minutes, Lee Pugh was sent off for two yellow cards following a rash challenge on the half-way line. It was inevitable that Curzon would press strongly after that but resolute resistance by the Rams to the prolonged aerial assault kept Curzon at bay and the nearest either team came to a winner was when Hulme skipper in from the left and beat the keeper from 18 yards only to see his shot spin wide off the post.
Beaten only once in the last six league games, the Rams are looking comfortable in a division which anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Playing Hulme alone up front came out of necessity and has worked well but, for once, all his hard work and endeavour, he too often found himself isolated and crowded out of possession.
For all that, the balance of the team does not yet feel quite right although nobody could argue that this result represents anything other than an impressive start for the newly promoted team now almost a quarter of the way through the season.