Ramsbottom United returned from Merseyside with another three points in the bag, courtesy of a determined performance on a poor pitch, as the chase for the play-off places continues.

Not having had a good record at Valerie Park over recent seasons against their hosts and their tenants AFC Liverpool, the Rams put such memories behind them with an efficient ninety minutes and deservedly picked up the points.

On a pitch that hardly suited the visitors usual passing game, the Lancashire side did their best to grind out a result, and two quick-fire goals half way through the first half, laid the foundations for what was, in the end, a comfortable victory.

First chance of the game fell to Cables’ Jordan Shirley, but Grant Shenton, in goal, was able to deal with the well-driven effort.

Ramsbottom began to take charge with Phil Dean seeing his shot blocked, and then Lee Gaskell heading a Jordan Hulme overhead kick just over the bar.

A fierce Grant Spencer free-kick was pushed over the bar by a relieved Richie Mottram in the home goal, and from the resultant corner, Gaskell nodded Gary Stopforth’s header past the post.

The home side began to find their feet, and the game swung from end to end until the Rams struck a couple of killer goals.

On 27 minutes, Stopforth returned a half-cleared ball back into the box, and Gaskell rose highest to beat Mottram to the ball and glance in the opening goal.

Barely two minutes later, it was two.

This time a well-worked short corner routine found Spencer on the left-hand corner of the penalty area, and he floated an inch-perfect cross over the defenders to an unmarked Gaskell who had the simplest of tasks of nodding the ball home, unchallenged, from close range.

Phil Bannister tried his luck from 20 yards, as the home side looked to get back in the game, but his shot drifted harmlessly wide.

The Rams were having the better of the half, and they added a further goal a minute before the break.

A corner was half-cleared, and Scott Burton, lurking outside the box, opened his account for the club by firing home a blistering volley that flew through the bodies and rattled the back of the net.

Gaskell almost made it four with the last attack of the half, but he scooped a difficult effort over the bar.

On 53 minutes, Gaskell did have the ball in the back of the net, but the linesman’s flag ruled it out for offside.

On the end of a fluid move from the men in blue, Spencer poked the ball wide, whilst Gaskell went in search of the matchball, and almost completed his hat-trick on two occasions.  Both times he was denied by Mottram.

The first was when he nipped through the defence, but the custodian was off his line and managed to scramble the ball from the forward’s feet.

On the second occasion, he drove Gaskell wide before blocking his close-range effort.

The home side’s attacks were sporadic as the Rams defence rarely looked like being breached, and despite the bobbly surface, the visitors continued to take the game to their hosts.

A fourth goal should have arrived on 89 minutes, when a poor clearance fell to the feet of Jordan Hulme.  With two totally unmarked team-mates calling for the ball, he chose to test the keeper, and Mottram guessed right to keep the arrears down to three.

Those three goals mean that the Rams have now knocked in 87 league goals already this season, that’s 14 more than the next highest scorers.

It’s that type of performance that continues to attract an ever-growing band of supporters, many of whom enjoyed this latest victory, as the push for the play-offs continues.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Smalley(Toth 79mins), Pilkington, Stopforth, Warrender, Priestley,Spencer(Green 65mins), Burton, Gaskell, Hulme, Dean Subs not used: Johnson, Morley

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