The new look Ramsbottom United team kicked off the new season by finally banishing the blues that had surrounded the club over the last eighteen months.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 13 August 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 245

A comfortable victory over Goole on the opening day of the season augurs well for the campaign, as the result was never in doubt once one of the few remaining players from last year, Nia Bayunu, thumped home a tenth minute header from Alex Meaney’s corner.

The Ramsbottom fans had turned up with much hope after the wholesale changes that had taken place throughout the summer, and their optimism was not out of place.

Despite ten debutants taking to the field, these players gelled together and looked much more of a team that had been seen at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium during the last campaign.

Returnee Darren Green had a superb game, culminating in two goals and a man-of-the-match performance.

However, he was not alone in providing a healthy crowd of 245 (up on last year’s average) with plenty to smile about.  There appeared not to be a weak link in the whole squad, which confirms just how much work new joint-managers Paul Fildes and Mark Fell have put in, along with their coaching staff, to assemble the new-look outfit.

Once Bayunu had struck, the Rams gave an assured performance to comfortably gain their first three points of the new season.

Although Goole created a couple of chances, it was Green who doubled the advantage on 31 minutes.  Some neat play from the left wing, then through the middle from Jay Hart and Gareth Seddon, saw the ball fed to Green on the right hand side of the penalty area, and he swivelled before crashing the ball past Dan Morton in the visitor’s goal.

Hart then saw his effort, late in the half, hacked away from the line as the first half ended with a appreciative round of applause from the home support.

The second half saw less urgency from the home side, but still Goole could not get a foothold in the game.

Meaney was inches over from the edge of the box, whilst substitute Jake Cliffe, on for the injured Nat Taylor, must be wondering how he screwed the ball wide from ten yards, having been set up by the impresive Josh Dunroe.

At the other end, Chris Cheetham did well to finger-tip the ball on to the bar during a rare Goole raid on the home goal, but Green went close on a couple of occasions to adding to his tally, whilst Seddon was agonisingly millimetres away from converting a dangerous left-wing free-kick.

On 82 minutes, Goole finally found the net, when Cheetham could not gather the ball cleanly, and Sam Robinson was able to turn and poke it home from close range.

Any thoughts of an unlikely comeback were soon extinguished, however, for just two minutes later, Green raced onto a high through ball, and as his marker stumbled, he calmly advanced before firing low past Morton to restore the two goal cushion.

Morton made amends in the last minute when he held on to a shot from Green which could have earned him a deserved hat-trick.

3-1, though, proved to be a comfortable final score and the three points were throughly deserved by a team that it seems hard to believe were playing their first competitive game together.

Incredibly, it was the first time since August 2010 that the Rams had recorded an opening day league victory – the Rams beating Flixton 3-0 in the North West Counties League opener thanks to a double from Jon Robinson, sandwiching Dominic Smalley’s 55-minute strike.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Cheetham, Dunroe, Atherton, Stott, Botham, Bayunu (Coulson 87mins), Taylor (Cliffe 45mins), Meaney, Hart (Crankshaw 70mins), Seddon, Green.  Subs not used: Hartley, Hargreaves

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