New Ramsbottom United manager Garry Vaughan began his reign at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium with a point, although his side left it late to salvage something from a game they felt should have won.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 17 October 2015
Attendance: 164

In the two clubs first-ever meeting, Vaughan selected a much-changed line-up that included ten players under the age of 21, and the enthusiasm and running was plainly evident as the side gave their all against a much more experienced Derbyshire outfit.

With time running out, however, it looked as though all the endeavour would be in vain, until Oldham Athletic loanee Jordan Bove struck home a late equaliser with 90 minutes on the clock.

The Rams began the game well with fellow-Oldham loanee Jack Tuohy twice trying his luck only to see his efforts clear the bar.

On the quarter hour, an almighty scramble in the Mickleover box saw the visitors somehow manage to repel three attempts at goal, then as they cleared the danger, within seconds some decisive passing had the visitors at the other end of the field, and the ball fell in space for Jake Bennett who stroked it past Grant Shenton in the home goal to open the scoring, very much against the run of play.

Debutant central defender, Liam Gibson, who had an excellent debut, sent a free-kick inches over the Mickleover bar before trying his luck from 25 yards, but again it was off target.

Both sides tested one another out without causing either keeper much trouble, and the Rams defence, which had looked nervous in previous games, proved outstanding as they held the visitors at bay.  At the other end, despite the pleasing passing game, the Rams themselves rarely troubled Tom Turner in the away goal, lacking that vital cutting edge in the last third.

The second half saw Sports look to extend their lead, and they really should have done so after 58 minutes, when Charlie Dawes sent over the perfect low cross which found Sam Finlaw at the far post.  However, he failed to control the ball with an empty net gaping, and the danger was cleared.  Minutes later, Dawes gathered the ball at the edge of the box before neatly turning and firing in a low drive which Shenton gathered on the line.

On 69 minutes, Mickleover were reduced to ten men.  As Bove chased a through ball, he was unceremoniously hacked to the ground by last man Dwayne Wiley, who duly received a red card for his troubles.  Fortunately for the visitors, after checking with his assistant, the referee awarded a free-kick just outside the box, rather than the penalty the home side had looked for.  Max Harrop’s subsequent free-kick was held by Turner.

Sam Grimshaw fired in a fierce angled drive which Turner held on to, and that appeared to be the Rams last effort as the clock ticked down.

But on 90 minutes, Bove raced onto a through ball, and calmly picked his spot to fire home a deserved equaliser.

Five minutes were added on, and the Rams pushed forward for a second goal which would have given them their first victory of the season, but it wasn’t to be and that search for the elusive three points means they stay bottom of the league.

The performance, together with that against Blyth Spartans, has certainly rekindled hope that the new manager and his new recruits can tackle the rest of the season with renewed optimism and battle their way out of the bottom four.

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