It is all about performance now with points largely irrelevant so while the wind assisted last kick of the match thunderbolt from Jean Michel Gueyes that deprived the Rams and their travelling faithful a well deserved win was a deflating moment, it does not detract from a improving display.

SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2
The Central Ground, Sutton Coldfield
Saturday 26 March 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Attendance: 176

For the first time this season and perhaps in living memory in the post-January 2015 period, the Rams fielded an unchanged team – which is hopefully an indication of what the best XI is from the current squad – injuries, most crucially to right back Robbie Bromley sorely missed in the last few games apart.  The confidence that comes from consistent selection was apparent in youngsters Jake Cliffe, Aaron Smith, Danny Wilkins, John Pritchard and Cameron Horner but the improvement in performance is more individual than collective with the lack of an outfield leader who can control and direct as circumstances demand a glaring requirement.

It was that shortcoming that, in common with so many other games recently, prevented the Rams from closing the game down having dominated for most of the 90+ minutes and having gone ahead for the second time with just seven minutes of normal time left.  Ahead just short of the hour when Danny Wilkins dispossessed a defender and set up Steve Foster who calmly slotted home, the Rams looked set to control the rest of the game.  The lead though lasted barely two minutes, Gueyes the pending nemesis for the Rams found it all too easy to get to the goal line down the left and his cut back was met at the near post by Cameron Gayle.

In response the Rams introduced Cameron Horner who revitalised the attack.  His first contribution was a bristling run tight down the left and then cutting back into the box to set up John Pritchard – the scuffed shot that followed not troubling the keeper.  Next found by Wilkins on the opposite flank, he found himself in space on the right edge of the box and unleashed a swerving dipping shot that completely deceived young David James-lookalike home keeper James Wren and crashed into the far corner.

The Rams really should have won from there but then the lack of leadership set in.  It started with a ludicrous throw in to the Rams deep in the home half which through misplaced ambition in its outcome coughed up possession and presented Sutton with an unencumbered break down the right.  Only a mixture of despairing tackles and Grant Shenton’s body preventing an equaliser.

The Rams seemed to have weathered the storm, both figuratively and literally – the wind and rain in their faces by this stage reaching deluvian proportions – when Shenton was just unable to prevent a deflected effort from going out for a corner.  For several matches recently the Rams have adopted the slightly risky if not tactically questionable approach of leaving an opposition midfielder unmarked 30 yards or so when defending corners – when chasing the game doing so in favour of a man further forward may have some merit (not that there has been any danger of the ploy working) but in the dying embers of a match when in front tests understanding.

The firm clearing header from Alex Meaney was drawing gaps of relief from the mouths of the Rams supporters until it fell to the feet of the aforesaid Gueyes.  Both teams had struggled to keep shots down in the wind and on the 3G surface but this time Guyes caught his shot perfectly.  Although straight down the middle, it ripped past the defenders and a startled Shenton into the roof of the net.

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