What a difference three days makes.  On Saturday a 1-1 draw away was received with a roar of positive approval.  Last night the same result, albeit against a team lower in the league and down to ten men for the last 50 minutes or so, drew only grunts of frustration, anger and disbelief from the travelling fans who again were out in support in good numbers.  Mark Fell and his players need to be asking themselves some searching questions as to what went wrong in a game which the Rams had in firm control but which in the end was only going to have one winner – and that was not the visitors.

Butchers Arms
Tuesday 10 January 2017
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 155

The game just about summed up the season so far – inconsistency between games and within games – light and dark, great promise followed by despair.  Unless this is attended to, the aspirations of a push towards play off places will be nothing more than a cruel illusion.  Of course in mitigation the management will point to a threadbare squad shorn by unavailability, illness, injury and suspension which lead to a starting XI devoid of a recognised centre forward.  In fact either by accident or design that led to an approach which best offered the route to goal.  Pressing high with Grant Spencer and Josh Askew to the fore every time the Rams got the ball to feet in the first 45 minutes they looked like scoring.

Askew had flashed a shot wide from a tight angle and Adam Kay had taken a moment too long in getting his shot away having turned inside the box before Grant Spencer put the Rams in front on the half hour.  Found on the penalty spot by a smart Matty Atherton through ball he calmly slipped inside his marker and rolled the ball into the corner for a well deserved lead.  Droylsden though had not been without threat.  Using the width of the pitch effectively and with Luke Daly, of whom much more later, at the centre of most attacking movements, they won a series of corners which the Rams repelled but not without moments of alarm – one of which saw a low shot from some distance crash off the foot of the post with Martin Fearon rooted.

The turning point though, but not for the reason that might have been anticipated came with five minutes of the half left.  Askew raced clear, rounded the keeper outside the area and was certain to score before being flattened.  Off went the keeper and the free kick went over the bar.  As matters were to prove, 2-0 against 11 men would have been much better than 1-0 against 10.

The response from the Rams to the numerical advantage was to push Grant Spencer wide out on the right.  The tactical objective of stretching Droylsden was unimpeachable but for it to work the ball had to be moved quickly to Spencer and Askew on the opposite flank and for midfield players to burst into the space created down the side of the area.  Neither condition was met and with the midfield disappearing from sight and lacking Spencer’s interventions through the middle, Droylsden needed no second invitation to grab a result from what should have been the jaws of defeat.  Luke Daly was everywhere – quick, nimble, agile, fluid of movement and accurate in his passing long and short.  He dominated the game.

The option of using the extra man to mark him out of the game did not appear to occur and the home team, playing with tremendous spirit and energy, were allowed to put the Rams defence on the rack.  After a quarter of a hour of pounding at the door only to be denied by firm goal keeping and some last minute blocking, a goal was inevitable but when it came was the result of yet another weak defensive header which let in an attacker who was hauled to the ground.  Jamie Frost made no mistake from the spot.

The Rams brought on Aaron Hollindrake and returning Spencer to the middle rallied slightly but still had to rely on Fearon plunging low to his left to keep the scores level after a quick counter attack shredded the Rams cover.  The fact that at least five players were meandering back arguing with the referee did little to help the cause.

Even then at the death Grant Spencer had the chance to seize a cruel win finding himself at the edge of the box with only the substitute keeper to beat but his shot lacked strength and the keeper was able to make an extravagant dive to his left and clutch the ball.

Not good enough I am afraid.

Droylsden: James Coates, Andreas Bianga, Shaun Holden, Clayton McDonald, Domaine Rouse (capt), Jack Rudge, Luke Daly, Steve Hall, Adam Farrell, Dominic Smith, Liam Caddick.  Subs: Yomi Samuels, Hilaire Moutemi (gk) (for Hall 44mins), Jamie Frost (for Farrell 57mins), Tom Peers (for Smith 77mins), Callum Bagshaw.

Ramsbottom United: Martin Fearon, Bradley Roscoe, Matthew Atherton, Dean Stott, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Sam Freakes, Adam Kay, Damien Green, Grant Spencer, Josh Askew.  Subs: Jack Corcoran, Aaron Hollindrake (for Green 75mins), Regan Jarrett (for Freakes 78mins), Oliver Crankshaw, Nat Taylor.

Referee: Kristian Silcock.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GAME (courtesy of RammyCam and Ste Heard)

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