Ramsbottom United made the trip to near neighbours Radcliffe on Monday for a New Year’s Day derby match hoping for an upturn in their recent league form.

Stainton Park, Radcliffe
Monday 1 January 2018
Evo-Stik North
Attendance: 208

The visitors made a couple of changes from their last outing over two weeks ago with Jamie Rother and Yves Zama coming in for Liam Brownhill and Eddie Moran respectively.

On a wet and blustery afternoon it was the Rams that started brightly and almost took a second minute lead when a mix-up in the home defence gave Phil Dean an opportunity but his well struck shot beat Haslam before hitting the outside of the post and bouncing to safety.

Indeed both sides had chances to take the lead in the opening stages of the contest when Rams forward Greg Daniels brought a save from Haslam before Radcliffe responded with the best chance of the early exchanges when Hooper latched onto a flicked header and found himself one on one with Charlie Albinson who blocked the attempt as the first 15 minutes remained goalless.

Before the first half was 20 minutes old, the Rams had fashioned another couple of attempts on goal with Daniels and Zama testing home keeper Haslam as the away side started the contest in sprightly fashion.

It was the home side that opened the scoring with ten minutes of the first period remaining when a free kick near the half way line was launched into the Rams penalty area by Radcliffe skipper Williams and perhaps aided by the conditions the ball somehow looped over the stranded Albinson and into the net much to the surprise of most inside the Neuven Stadium.

The remainder of the half was a fairly open affair as Ramsbottom United looked to restore parity with Daniels again finding room for a shot at goal which flashed wide of the target as Radcliffe looked for their fourth home victory of the campaign.  As the referee blew for half time it was the home side that had the lead into a competitive contest.

In difficult conditions, it was the Rams that applied the early pressure in the early moments of the second half with Phil Dean looking a threat in a left wing berth with Jerome Wright pressed into service at full back.  The away team threatened the Radcliffe goal on a couple more occasions with Rother firing over the bar before Lee Gaskell turned smartly in the area but his shot was gathered by Haslam.

As the encounter approached the hour mark the home side threatened to extend their slender advantage when a bout of pressure saw Hooper test Albinson with a low shot, shortly after which a corner was cleared to the edge of the box before being returned goalwards from the right hand side and with Albinson beaten the ball hit the inside of the post much to the relief of the away side.  The Rams keeper was again called into action when he superbly tipped over a stinging effort from distance as the home side applied more pressure to the visitors’ goal.

Radcliffe then doubled their advantage midway through the second half when substitute Czubik set off on a powerful run down the left flank before cutting inside and sending a shot which found its way past Albinson.

The Rams responded as Alex Meaney replaced the hard working Dean Stott in midfield and within minutes halved the deficit when a well struck shot from the edge of the penalty area beat the diving Haslam for the schemers first goal of the season.

With the ever worsening conditions and the pitch getting heavier by the minute the Rams sent on youth team graduate Michael Williams for his first team debut for Zama and the youngster almost made it a debut to remember when his well struck shot was saved by Haslam before agonisingly rolling wide of the far post.

As the minutes ticked by the visitors searched for an elusive equaliser but it was the home side that confirmed the three points when with just a minute remaining a misjudged back pass fell short of the intended target Albinson before being seized upon by debutant Mukendi who rounded the Rams keeper and finished confidently to give Radcliffe the derby day spoils much to the disappointment of the healthy number of Rams fans in attendance.

Whilst the result was frustrating for the Rams it is worth commending both sets of players on their efforts in a match played in appalling conditions.

This was not the start to 2018 that Ramsbottom United had hoped for but with one win in the last nine league games and just six points gained from a possible 36 on the road this season it is hoped that an improvement in results isn’t too far away if the Rams are to climb the table and improve on last season’s 14th place finish.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Albinson, Heathcote, Wright, Stott (Meaney 62mins), Thompson (Ashburner 83mins), Mohammed, Zama (Williams 69mins), Rother, Gaskell, Daniels, Dean.  Subs not used: Kay, Moran.

Saturday 6th January – HOME v Skelmersdale United
Saturday 13th January – AWAY v Colne


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