A relegation six-pointer against a Stamford side which has recovered from a three goal deficit to grab a point in the reversed fixture earlier in the season, ended with neither side particularly happy as once again it prove to be a point apiece.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1 STAMFORD 1
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 19 December 2015
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
With the pitch becoming heavier by the minute, control proved difficult although both teams never gave up the fight, and the visitors will probably feel they deserved some reward for their efforts.
In reality, the Rams should have ensured an extra couple of points in their fight to escape the clutches of the bottom four, but failure to convert a number of chances came back to haunt them.
The game began fairly evenly. Grant Shenton, in the home goal, had to be alert as early as the fourth minute as he pushed a close range effort round the post, before both Jordan Bove and Shelton Payne went close for the hosts at the other end.
Jordan Smith and Elliott Hodge both broke through the home side’s defence, looking certain to open the scoring, but dithering allowed a saving tackle to be made, thwarting the visitors, who were almost made to pay for it moments later.
David Kuba-Kuba received the ball on the edge of the box before placing his shot superbly past Ashley Timms in the away goal, only to see it bounce back into play from the inside of the post.
Bove then sliced the ball wide when he should have done better with a Luke Heron cross before the home side took the lead on 24 minutes.
Payne raced into the box before being brought down, but having dusted himself down, he calmly slotted the resultant penalty to the keepers left to open the scoring.
If that should have given the Rams confidence, then it soon evaporated.
Just two minutes later some woeful defending in the penalty area saw Stamford’s forward three times direct free shots at goal that were somehow blocked, but a fourth effort from Hodge finally broke the resistance and the scores were level once again.
Just minutes later Jake Duffy thought he had given the Lincolnshire side the lead with a superb curling free-kick which took a last gasp save from Shenton to turn it round the post.
Aaron Smith and Payne both had chanced to put the Rams back in front before the break, but failed to do so.
With tiring legs on the heavy surface, the second half produced fewer goal-scoring opportunities as play generally fizzled out in both penalty areas.
Alex Meaney’s 25-yard thunderbolt deserved better than to fly past the post, whilst the ever-dangerous Payne twice went close to notching a winner, firstly with a wriggling run into the left-hand side of the box, and then when he found space in the area, but was denied by a fine save from Timms.
Jordan Smith almost stole it for the visitors in the dying minutes but he headed weakly wide when unchallenged from a right wing cross, leaving both sides to settle for a point each which does neither of them much use as they battle away at the bottom of the table.
Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (capt), Prince Haywood, Luke Heron, Marcus Poscha, Nia Bayunu, Alex Meaney, John Pritchard, David Kuba-Kuba, Jordan Bove, Aaron Smith (Michael Oates 70mins), Shelton Payne. Subs not used: Liam Gibson, Robbie Bromley, Jake Cliffe, Matthew Crothers.
Goals: Shelton Payne (pen – 24mins)
Cards: Marcus Poscha (yellow)
Stamford: Ashley Timms (capt), Ellis Myles, Jason Field (Lewis Carr 72mins), Tom McGowan (Korey Nix 90mins), Tom Batchelor, Bradley Gascoigne, Lee Beeson, Jake Duffy, Greg Smith (Andre Johnson 57mins), Jordan Smith, Elliott Hodge. Subs not used: Kallum Nix, Jack Drury (gk).
Goals: Elliott Hodge (26mins)
Referee: Justin Hayes (Marple)
NEXT UP FOR THE RAMS:
Saturday 26th December: AWAY v Salford City (3pm)
Monday 28th December: HOME v Workington (3pm)