Ramsbottom United picked up a useful three points on a rare Friday night fixture at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, against a Kendal Town side who edged the first half, but fell away during the controversial second period.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Friday 30 December 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 233

Indeed, for much of the opening half hour, the Cumbrians looked the more likely to score, with their captain Martin Grundy firing narrowly wide before Martin Fearon, in the home goal, managed to smother an attempt from the on-rushing Matt Dudley.

Grundy then dispossessed Grant Spencer, but his final effort sailed over the bar.

When the only goal of the game arrived on 32 minutes, it was as quick as it was unexpected.

A huge boot upfield from Fearon caused Will Kitchen in the Kendal goal to punch out wide straight to Damian Green on the right hand side of the field.  Spotting the keeper well off his line, Green’s trusty left boot found a gap and fired a low drive through the defence and into the unguarded goal from fully 25 yards out.

Grundy, who was having an influential game for the visitors, again fired over from 20 yards before Ryan Salmon, at the other end, suffered the same fate.

So the home side trooped in at half-time with the advantage that was probably a little bit fortuitous, but this match will be remembered for the antics of the second half.

Within three minutes of the re-start, the Rams were down to ten men.  The referee’s assistant, who was to have a controversial night, flagged for the referee, and after a brief discussion, Salmon was shown a red card, much to the bewilderment of the home support.  Apparently he had reacted to a punch in the face that went unseen by the same official.

On 61 minutes even more controversy unfurled.  A ball into the area was headed by a defender, but miscued back towards his own goal.  Gareth Seddon, standing within the six yard area, gleefully nodded home, only for the same assistant to raise his flag for offside.  Confusion reigned, as both the assistant and the referee were surrounded by disgrunted home players wanting to know how on earth a player can be offside from an opponent’s touch.

Feeling a sense of injustice, the Rams began to look the more likely to add to the score-line, and a flowing move involving Adam Kay, Josh Askew and Sam Freakes saw the latter flash the ball inches over for what would have been an outstanding team goal.

A dangerous in-swinging free-kick from Spencer sailed inches away from Seddon, and flew past the post as the home side strove to ensure the points remained in east Lancashire.

The visitors, by this time, were reduced to far-range efforts, and fortunately for the Rams, their shooting boots had apparently been left at home.

Seven minutes of stoppage time ensued, but the men in blue held on for a victory that they ultimately deserved in a game that will be remembered more for the controversial officiating than the actual football.

The Rams close 2016 in 14th place in the table with 29 points to their name, which is already more than they accumulated in the relegation season last time out.

Ramsbottom United: Martin Fearon, Dean Stott, Josh Askew, Adam Kay, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Damian Green, Grant Spencer, Ryan Salmon, Gareth Seddon (capt), Sam Freakes.  Subs: Bradley Roscoe (for Freakes 90mins), Matthew Atherton (for Green 85mins), Oliver Crankshaw, Aaron Hollindrake, Regan Jarrett (for Seddon 90mins).

Kendal Town: Will Kitchen, Danny McGahon, Paul Dugdale, Martin Grundy (capt), Adam Freeland, Joshua Wardle, Sam Bailey, Danny Forbes, Robert Bowman, Matthew Dudley, Ben Thomas.  Subs: Charlie Bailey (for Dudley 78mins), Mohamed El-Harratt (for Forbes 73mins), Stuart McDonald (for Grundy 57mins), Dan Towers.

Referee: Dale Baines (Kirkby)

Monday 2nd January 2017 – HOME v Clitheroe (3pm)
Saturday 7th January 2017 – AWAY v Ossett Town (3pm)

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