With just 20 minutes left and the game still poised at 0-0, the Rams were denied a clear goal when the referee and linesman between them failed to spot that a Shelton Payne free kick had crossed the line by a good yard.  It would be easy to see this misfortune as the turning point in the match but in truth the Rams were second best throughout and the performance as a whole was a step backwards from the promise shown in recent matches.

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
The New Manor Ground
Saturday 5th December 2015
Attendance: 432

As yet for all the improvement up to Saturday, there is no sign that the underlying problems which are preventing the required upswing in results are being solved.  There is the continuing inability to sustain performance levels over the full 90 minutes or across all eleven on the pitch and an overwhelming bias towards the right side in midfield and upfront which leaves the left flank exposed continually susceptible.

Add to that unimaginative use of free kicks and a mystifying insistence on the use of ineffectual short corner routines should give plenty to concentrate on in training.

The Rams started the more brightly, backed by the strong wind which, while doing little to enhance the quality of the football did not disrupt the game quite as much as might have been imagined.  David Kuba-Kuba was prominent in breaking up possession and bringing Shelton Payne and Kayde Coppin into the game.  Their instant first touch offered much promise but a tendency to dwell too long on the ball and reluctance to fire off wind assisted shots gave Evandro Rachoni, who was looking nervous and uncertain, a much easier time than he might have expected.

The better chances fell to Ilkeston for whom Udoh and Ndlovu were a constant menace.  On balance, the home team should have gone in ahead at half time – Ndlovu heading onto the top of the bar and then he and Udoh both failing to get enough power into shots, the first of which was well saved by Grant Shenton and the second cleared off the line by Liam Gibson.  The Rams keeper was the fortunate to see Udoh’s shot flash wide of the post.

It was to be expected that now having the wind at their backs, the home team would restart the stronger.  As the half progressed, they pushed the Rams deeper and made consistent inroads down the right.  The Rams were slow to make changes to respond to a loss of shape in midfield and failure to keep any consistent control of the ball up front.  But it was well past the hour before either team mustered another threat on goal.

First, Shenton pulled off a save reminiscent of the great Gordon Banks getting back across the face of the goal and pulling off a plunging save at the far post to deny an Udoh downward header.  Then came the controversy at the other end. 

From tight on the dead ball line, Shelton Payne swung in a dipping swerving free kick which beat the keeper and was clearly over the line before being hooked clear.  Moments later a scuffed Ilkeston corner from the left evaded Shenton at the near post and was bundled in by Ndlovu.  With that, the dam of the Rams’ resolve burst.

Another cross from the right found Udoh whose header fell kindly for Michael Williams unmarked six yards out to make it 2-0 and then Udoh polished off a fine performance and any faint hopes of a Rams revival with a firm shot from the edge of the area.

3-0 did not flatter the home team.

Ilkeston: Evandro Rachoni, Danny Gordon (Curtis Burrows 78mins), Oliver Luto, Jordan Wheatley, Matthew Baker, Joe Burgess (capt), Joe Doyle, Eli Bako (Michael Williams 61mins), Daniel Udoh (Haydn Goddard 90mins), Blake, Lindokuhle Ndlovu.  Subs not used: Dolan, Jahquil Kumari-Hill.
Goals: Lindokuhle Ndlovu (76mins), Michael Williams (81mins), Daniel Udoh (84mins)

Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (capt), Robbie Bromley, Sam Grimshaw (Aaron Smith 83mins), Liam Gibson, Nia Bayunu, Prince Hayward, Shelton Payne, David Kuba-Kuba, Michael Oates (Jordan Bove 72mins), Alex Meaney (Matthew Crothers 72mins), Kayde Coppin.  Subs not used: John Pritchard, Marcus Poscha

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