This was a very disappointing defeat for the Rams who in the opening 15 minutes and the last 30 minutes when they nominally had a man advantage, spurned a number of clear edged chances to win a game against opponents also at the wrong end of the table and struggling for points.
MICKLEOVER SPORTS 3 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1
Don Amott Leisure Stadium, Mickleover
Saturday 19 March 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
A very depleted match day squad might be pointed to as contributing to the defeat but in the eyes of virtually every member of the travelling support, there is no excuse in not making best use of the squad available. John Pritchard, who had been one of the better performers in the Rams’ last game, was mysteriously put on the bench and left there for the whole 90 minutes.
The Rams started brightly and only some desperate defending, including a goal line clearance prevented them taking an early lead with new signing Cameron Horner looking like a positive addition to the team. But, as always, there was uncertainty in defence marked by an inability to win the first header and susceptibility to the simple through ball.
Mickleover had a young, quick but diminutive front man in Zeph Thomas whose movement was a constant menace and in John MaGrath one of those midfielders with an ability to be in the right place at the right time. The game became more even once the home team settled down after the initial Rams onslaught and it was the hosts who took the lead on the half-hour when Thomas, running through onto a through ball that was more neat than should have been testing, calmly rounded Grant Shenton to score – and could have done a few minutes later when clear through again by the same route – this time Shenton did well to save with his legs.
Apart from those two flurries of excitement, there was not much else to keep the fans warm until the hour mark when Jay Cooper, having just been sent on for Mickleover, was immediately sent of for a rash tackle. With Horner becoming increasingly dominant, forcing Ross Durrant into a good save and Alex Meaney and Tom Coulson combining well, the Rams had taken the upper hand and when Meaney fired an exquisite shot into the very top corner from 35 yards, the expectation was that the rams would go onto win.
But they have never knowingly failed to look a gift horse in the mouth. Both on the pitch and from the technical area, there was no sign of being able to take advantage of the numerical superiority in spite of the home side keeping two up front and playing with just three in midfield.
That gamble paid off. Nial Thompson, on as a substitute, was only denied by a flying save from Shenton and then latched onto a loose through ball and despite stumbling as he went round the keeper managed to exert enough forward pressure on the ball to see it roll in.
The Rams pressed forward looking for the equaliser without any real prospect of a positive outcome.
With three minutes left, Mickleover responded with a savage counter attack in which Thomson raced into acres of space down the right and crossed expertly to Marcus Dinonga who forced the ball in at the far post – leaving the travelling fans frustrated, dejected and angry and searching for the signs of the much trumpeted development spoken at recent fans’ forums.