The hardy group of supporters who worked all Saturday morning to get the pitch fit for play were rewarded by a battling performance which saw the Rams grab all three points and leap-frog their opponents into 11th position.  And the Chairman had the bonus of a bumper crowd fuelled by postponements elsewhere which would have been at least a 100 less had the game had to be rearranged.  So after a busy and challenging week there is a strong case to be made for all round contentment.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 14 January 2017
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 261

In a evenly and fairly contested match of few clear cut chances it was always likely that the outcome would be decided by a single goal.  With legs tiring on both sides, defences dominant and time beginning to slip away a scoreless stalemate was looking like the most likely option.  That was until with just 15 minutes left Josh Askew found time and space to dart into the box.  A clumsy tackle sent him flying and referee Ian Hurdle who was excellent throughout had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.  Adam Kay made no mistake sending a powerful shot into the bottom corner.

For the first hour while the vastly experienced Jamie Milligan was on the field displaying the elusive art of standing still and finding space Bamber Bridge had just about had the balance of the game.  In the first half Reagan Linney had hit the post with a snap shot and on three other occasions only needed a better connection to test Martin Fearon.  Again having to deploy Damian Green in a faux centre forward position and a little too laboured in the build up the Rams has struggled to make much impression on the Bamber Bridge defence.  But when tempus finally fugited for Milligan substituted on the hour and as the game began to stretch the Rams finally began to gain momentum and threat.

Grant Spencer started to run into the spaces vacated by Green who tended to drift off to the right causing a little confusion in the visitors’ rearguard.  Sam Freakes found his feet crashing a shot from distance onto the bar and Adam Kay went about his business unobtrusively.  This is a player who has tons of potential but who so far has struggled to make a lasting impression.  On Saturday there were clear signs that this is about to change.  He is a player who does his work in the undergrowth, below the radar.  Something of a stealth bomber – unseen but no less effective.

Apart from some costly moments of loss of concentration the Rams have been displaying much improved levels of defensive coherence of late.  In this match they had to reorganise for the loss of Luke Thompson.  Bradley Roscoe slipped neatly into the middle and a young Joe Rathbone came on to make his debut filling space and blocking lines of attack with assurance.  Bamber Bridge threw men forward despite being down to 10 men due to injury.  The Rams held firm but even so there was no little relief when the final whistle came.

The next three games, two at home, are against teams around or below them in the league.  With the squad returning closer to full strength the next two weeks could well be the defining period of the season – weather permitting.

Ramsbottom United: Martin Fearon, Bradley Roscoe, Matthew Atherton, Dean Stott (capt), Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Sam Freakes, Adam Kay, Damian Green, Grant Spencer, Josh Askew.  Subs: Oliver Crankshaw (for Atherton 85mins), Joe Rathbone (for Thompson 69mins), Nat Taylor (for Spencer 89mins), Aaron Hollindrake, Zack Hargreaves.

Bamber Bridge: Steve James, George Bowyer, Adam Dodd, Matt Lawlor (capt), Josh Heaton, Christian N’Guessan, Michael Potts, Regan Linney, Ben Wharton, Jamie Milligan, Ramirez Howarth.  Subs: Chris McDonagh (for Wharton 69mins), Ryan Riley (for Milligan 69mins), Phil Doughty, Stuart Vasey, Matt Mahoney (for Bowyer 62mins).

Referee: Ian Hurdle (Holmes Chapel)

PICTURES FROM THE MATCH (courtesy of Frank Crook)

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MATCH (thanks to Ste Heard and RammyCam)

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