Ramsbottom United’s difficult start to life at Evo-Stik Premier level was hardly helped by the absence of four influential regulars, all out through injury.
Under such circumstances, a visit to title favourites FC United was always going to prove a difficult obstacle to overcome, but, despite going down to another defeat, the thread-bare squad performed well and took an early lead at Stalybridge Celtic’s Bower Fold ground.
In the opening minutes the Rams took the game to their hosts, with Jordan Hulme being denied as his header was blocked on the line with barely two minutes on the clock.
With ten minutes played, the visitors deservedly took the lead. A corner from the left was met by Hulme, and this time his header did reach the back of the net via a deflection off the underside of the bar.
Osebi Abadaki almost doubled the lead when he raced down the right wing, only to screw his shot wide of the far post, and the same player was denied from close range by a block from home keeper David Carnell.
The Rams had looked good value for their lead, but they let it slip on 33 minutes, when a saving tackle was played back to Grant Shenton as he raced out of his goal. Confusion reigned as keeper and a defender failed to clear the danger, and FC’s Tom Greaves gleefully nipped in to walk the ball into an empty net.
That was harsh on the Rams who were inches away from regaining the lead three minutes before the break. Jon Robinson’s tenacity won the ball on the left and his perfect cross found Hulme’s head, but the attention of a defender saw the ball beat the keeper but also the wrong side of the post.
Just as the Rams were preparing to curse their luck, after a half they edged, a killer blow was struck in time added on. A corner from the right was not dealt with, and as the ball was headed back across goal, Greaves was in the right place to head home from close range.
That goal seemed to deflate the visitors, whilst the hosts were determined to press home the advantage as they stepped up a gear in the second half. Playing down the slope, the Reds looked the more likely to add to the tally, and so it proved on 63 minutes when they made the game safe. Having seen a dipping shot from Matthew Wolfenden clip the top of the Rams bar minutes earlier, Liam Brownhill swung in a corner from the right, and the unmarked Chris Lynch applied the merest of touches to guide it into the back of the net.
A fourth was ruled out for offside, as Wolfenden’s close range effort was tucked in from a couple of feet out by Mike Norton, but a further goal was always likely to go to the home side.
Some stout defending ensured that it did not happen, whilst the closest the Rams came to reducing the lead was when Cedric Krou broke through, but his effort was blocked.
To round off a miserable afternoon, yet another red card went against the visitors, their fourth of the season. Malachi Slaven, having been booked in the first half, found himself on the wrong side of an opponent as time added on ticked down, and as the player hit the ground, the referee reached for the yellow card once more, swiftly followed by the red.
The leap up in to Evo-Stik Premier is proving a tough one for the team, as they search for the winning formula which has evaded them in all but one of the opening five matches, but a return of the injured players may well instil some stability as the Rams become accustomed to playing against better quality opposition.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Smalley, Pilkington, Spencer, Howson, Warrender, Abadaki(Williams 55mins), Slaven, Robinson(Krou 66mins), Hulme, Dean(Cook 81mins). Subs not used: Morley, Johnson