The Rams somehow managed to grab a draw from the jaws of victory on Thursday by conceding two goals in the last two minutes of a see-saw game.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 3 BLYTH SPARTANS 3
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Thursday 19th March 2015
Going into the two match midweek programme against strong, well-placed teams, they would have settled for a couple of points but the abiding feeling at the final whistle was one of defeat and a marvellous opportunity to leap up the table last.
Even so, on reflection, they will see a lot to be built on from a vibrant performance in the first 88 minutes. There are still some structural issues to be addressed. Perhaps concerned by an absence of real pace, the back four play deep which makes the Rams both vulnerable to the counter attack and prevents them building sustained territorial pressure; and the midfield pair two often find themselves outnumbered. But if they can reproduce the quality of play going forward against Blyth on a consistent basis, some team could well get a pasting soon.
In front on 17 minutes from a Jon Robinson goal, lashed in with aplomb, the Rams grew in confidence getting wide consistently and apart from the odd alarm at the back looked more than a match for the visitors. The lead though lasted only minutes after the break – Danny Maguire powering in an unstoppable header after the Rams had all too easily conceded possession in midfield.
Undeterred and driven on by a duracel David Kuba-Kuba, the Rams seized control. Robinson, at full stretch, could not control a volley from a Donal McDermott free kick and, for a moment, that seemed to be a defining moment. But three minutes later, McDermott scored by far the best goal seen at the HWRS this season and perhaps for many a season for the cleanliness of its conception and execution. Found in space wide by a 30-yard pass of unerring accuracy from Matt Burke, the winger took two strides into the corner of the box and sent a vicious shot that accelerated across the face of the goal and in off the far post.
And when Mark Ayres swerved in a shot from the most impossible of narrow angles, the Rams looked well on the way to a notable success.
The ability to close down games though has never been in the Rams’ DNA. Blyth threw on tall substitutes and then it was only a question of time before a succession of corners and free kicks yielded a goal for the visitors. Ryan Hutchinson squeezing in a knockdown at the near post with just a couple of minutes left.
The Blyth team scented redemption and piled forward. The next attack saw Grant Shenton unable to hold onto a low shot and Maguire was on hand to capitalise.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), Kyle Harrop, Lee Neville, Matthew Burke, Mark Ayres, George Bowyer, Tom Williams, David Kuba-Kuba, Jon Robinson, Lee Gaskell, Donal McDermott. Subs: Tom Brooks (for Williams 26mins), Tom Hartley (for Robinson 83mins), Luke Heron, Phil Edghill, Ian Bennett.
Goals: Jon Robinson (17 mins), Donal McDermott (58 mins), Mark Ayres (65 mins)