On a night of drama and controversy, two sides with hopes of a play-off place had to share the spoils as they both cancelled each other out.

New Ossett Town boss, the experienced John Reed, had a baptism of fire, as his new charges finished the match with nine players, as the game threatened, at times, to get out of control.

Ramsbottom began brightly enough, but the visitors pulled them back before taking the lead, but despite drawing level and seeing their opposite numbers reduced, the home side could not find a way through for a decisive third.

Grant Spencer saw his fourth minute strike tipped over by Sam Dobbs in the visitors goal, and Dobbs was to prove a controversial character as the game wore on, and could consider himself lucky to still be on the pitch at the end after constantly questioning the referee.

Lee Gaskell nodded a Smalley cross wide before Phil Dean opened the scoring on 13 minutes.

A fine low cross in from Spencer on the right was sweetly met by the wingman who fired home from 15 yards.

Minutes later James Eyles should have notched the equaliser when a mix-up in the home defence presented him with a golden opportunity but he screwed his shot wide of the far post.

The Rams were having the better of the early minutes, with Scott Burton, Spencer and Gaskell all attempting to increase the lead without success.

But on 27 minutes, Ossett grabbed an equaliser.  A quick free-kick was brought back by the referee, much to the annoyance of Town skipper Steve Jeff, but it proved a fortunate decision by the official, as the re-taken kick found the head of Shaun Connor who powered home a header from close range.

The visitors then enjoyed a spell of pressure.  They appealed in vain for a penalty when a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the box, but on 37 minutes another shout was successful.

In attempting to clear the danger, the referee spotted the ball hitting Billy Priestley’s hand and pointed to the spot. Jeff then dispatched the spot-kick with confidence to put the visitors ahead.

A fine run by Spencer sent the ball into the area, but Jordan Hulme and Gaskell failed to connect properly, whilst at the other end Shenton had to be at his best to deny Ryan Williams after a flowing Ossett move.

Within a minute of the restart, Burton was denied by a close range block, whilst Joel Pilkington’s speculative attempt sailed just the wrong side of the post. Dean and Hulme both went close before a fine Dean cross fell agonisingly inches away from the boot of Gaskell in front of an open goal.

Spencer was twice off target before the Rams were rewarded with an equaliser. 

An almost identical goal to Ossett’s first came on 63 minutes.  Owen Roberts curled in a free-kick from the right, and Danny Warrender rose highest to nod the ball in from ten yards out.

Ossett’s first dismissal arrived on 70 minutes when the referee, who was struggling to keep the game under control, produced a straight red to Steve Wakefield for a foot up challenge.

Yellow cards were dished out like confetti, as three Rams players and six from the visitors were on the receiving end.

Down to ten men, Ossett prepared themselves for an onslaught, but managed to hold out despite chances falling to Pilkington, Warrender and Roberts.

They almost snatched a dramatic late winner, when Nick Wood rose perfectly at the far post to direct a fierce header goalwards, only for Shenton to deny him with a finger tip push over the bar.

Late attempts to garner all three points by Pilkington and Roberts failed to breach the Ossett rearguard, and just when the visitors thought they had seen the game out, substitute Chris Ovington received the second red card of the night for what the official deemed a dangerous tackle on Burton.

In the end, both sides had to settle for a point apiece, but there was much for both sides to debate, with the visitors probably feeling the more aggrieved.

The Rams first draw in 13 games pushes them out of the play-off places, but with twelve games to go, it promises to be an exciting last couple of months.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Roberts, Spencer, Pilkington, Priestley, Smalley, Burton, Gaskell, Hulme(Green 77mins), Dean. Subs not used; Toth, Warburton, Bradbury, Chadwick

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