Make no mistake – from 1 to 11 plus the subs, this was as near a flawless performance as there might be – and in the eyes of this observer the best performance since the great debacle of January 2015.
COLNE 0 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1
Holt House Stadium
Tuesday 18 October 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
In those 22 months or so there has been the odd shaft of sunlight into the Stygian gloom – not least the win at Barwell which staved off relegation at the end of the 2014/2015 season – but for complete endeavour, togetherness, effort, organisation, clarity of thought and execution and a raw refusal to be overcome this was the real deal.
Colneare not a bad team and by no means performed badly themselves and add to that the fact that there is nothing like a slope and wind to upset the natural balance of a game of football the Rams were up against it. Thankfully there was not much wind last night but the Colne pitch has a gradient that would do justice to the Winter Olympics. Going in still level but having dominated with the advantage of gravity in the first half there was the worry that the Rams might capitulate in the second but such was the resolve there was no sign of that.
Ledby an energetic Ollie Crankshaw who slalomed and skated his way down the right flank the Rams dominated the first 45 minutes. Throughout the night Grant Spencer demonstrated an almost mystical ability to anticipate the trajectory of Colne clearances and counter attacks and assisted by an irrepressible Sam Freakes distributed the ball quickly cleanly and positively.
But the Rams could not turn possession into goals despite a period of five minutes midway through the half when first Crankshaw combined with Gareth Seddon with a neat one-two to ski into the box and send a low ball across the face of goal which just eluded a despairing lunge from Ryan Salmon at the far post; then Freakes saw a goal bound shot from the edge of the box blocked almost on the line followed by an exquisite pull down and half turn by Damian Green only to see his shot saved by the keepers legs.
On the restart the Rams applied the crampons, roped themselves together and battled their way up the hill. The back four were solid, barely missing a tackle, and the Rams won all the first balls, most of the second balls and a fair slice of the third.
They were indomitable.
It would be unfair to pick out one player for special praise when the effort of all was exemplary but there is cause for unfairness because again in the eyes of this observer there was one player who was simply outstanding – Ryan Salmon. This is a real tryer, a total team man who put in an effort that would put Sysiphus to shame continually carrying and chasing the ball up the hill before rolling back down and starting over again. The sight of him chasing the ball into the corner in the 96th minute head rolling and shoulders heaving like a wounded bull holding off three defenders before being dumped to the ground lifted the travelling fans, if they needed to be lifted, and brought out growls of appreciation. He has not scored yet for the Rams but when he scores there will be the proverbial party. In the meantime his ability and strength to hold up the ball and bring others into play will do very nicely.
The goal when it came with 14 minutes left and a rearguard action leading to a draw very much in the offing was a thing of beauty and precision. Grant Spencer found his way to the right edge of the box and rather than put in the obvious low ball instead picked out Damian Green towards the far side of the box with a precise 25 yard pass. The power of a shot can sometimes be judged by the elapsed time between release and crossing the line. The explosion of the shot from Green’s boot 20 yards out and its eruption into the roof of the net seemed instantaneous – what a roar, what joy.
Immediately a tiring Ollie Crankshaw was replaced by Pierre Yamfam whose antecedents, apart from the clue in his forename, are a subject of mystery at the moment. Less than 10 minutes later he was off the field following two yellow cards – both self inflicted and unnecessary – and on one harsh analysis might be cause to say adieu. But itis rumoured that this is a player who is rapid and in the few minutes he was on the pitch there was ample evidence that with ball at feet the reputation is justified and that this is a player who can turn defence into attack in the fleeting of an eye. The sending off was a disconcerting end to the night and its only blip but it is to be hoped that he is not to be lost during the suspension.
Overall more of the same and the results will continue to come – all by well continuing at Scarborough on Bridlington on Saturday.