Nine day previously, two early goals down at Matlock had confirmed the Rams relegation. A repeat dose in east Lancashire merely emphasised the gulf between an average Premier Division outfit and the struggling homesters, who once again found themselves 2-0 down after just twelve minutes.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0 MATLOCK TOWN 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Thursday 14th April 2016
At that early point, it was already game over, and a third goal in the second half just added to the recent woes which has seen the side go 20 games without a victory.
It took just 52 seconds for the deadlock to be broken. A through ball over the top of the advancing home defence saw Joel Purkiss judge the offside to perfection, and on seeing Rams keeper Grant Shenton off his line, he cleverly lobbed the ball over him from just outside the box and into the unguarded net.
Eleven minutes later more agony was piled on the Rams as Niall McManus found acres of space down the right hand side, and his low cross from the by-line evaded everyone bar Charlie Dawes at the far post and he had the simplest of tasks in netting from a couple of yards out.
Such was the inability of the home side to produce anything worthwhile that it took until the 33rd minute before the visitors’ goal was threatened. Steve Foster raced through a gap but saw his effort parried by George Willis in the Matlock goal, and as the ball eventually fell for Joe Shaw, he put the rebound inches wide.
By that time, the visitors could easily have extended their lead with both Liam Needham and McManus going close with long-range shots.
Danny Wilkins saw his attempt pushed wide by Willis just before the break as the Rams finally began to put some passes together, and the improvement continued in the second half after what was probably a stern half-time lecture.
But whilst the game was certainly more competitive during the second phase, it was Matlock that went further ahead on 58 minutes.
A high ball from the right could only be helped on by the outstretched fingers of Shenton, and it fell invitingly for Purkiss, who embarrassingly was all on his own with a Rams defender in sight, and he tapped the ball into a gaping net.
Shenton was again beaten ten minutes later by a fierce drive from Matlock substitute Jack Siddall, but this time the ball ricocheted back into play off the inside of the post.
An Alex Meaney long range effort that was punched away by Willis, and a late Jake Cliffe header that sailed over the bar were the sole attempts on goal by the home side, whose side in Division One North goes on without much of a fight, suggesting wholesale changes will be required to meet the new challenges come August.
Ramsbottom United team: Grant Shenton (capt), Robbie Bromley, Andrew Smart, Dylan Smith, Nia Bayunu, Zack Hargreaves (Jake Cliffe 59mins), Danny Wilkins, Joe Shaw, Steve Foster (Bevan Burey 62mins), Alex Meaney, John Pritchard (Dennon Ashcroft 68mins). Subs not used: Jack Lever, Jamie Rother