The Rams completed their home campaign at the HWRS for the 2016/17 season with a visit from local side Radcliffe Borough, looking to avenge their Boxing Day defeat at Taurus Park.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 17th April 2017
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 310

The hosts line up showed four changes from Saturday’s visit to Goole with Martin Fearon returning in goal from a three game suspension, Regan Jarrett making his first start for the first team whilst up front Ryan Salmon and Max Hazeldine started the game in place of Gareth Seddon and Lee Gaskell.

Hopes were high that Ramsbottom could bring to an end a dismal run of six consecutive home defeats against a team below them in the league standings at kick-off time.

The match began in lively fashion, the home side startng with positive intent with the strike force of Hazeldine and Salmon looking a threat to the visitors defence with a mixture of pace, power and strength.

Boro were passing the ball around nicely through midfield and it was the away team that created the first clear goal scoring chance of nine minutes when Elliot Rokka had a shot superbly cleared off the line by a sliding Bradley Roscoe.

The Rams responded to this let off by attempting to get the youthful wide players Jarrett and Redmayne into the game, indeed the former went on a strong run showing both pace and confidence on his full debut for the club which showed promise to the bumper and season highest league crowd of 310.

The first quarter of the match was developing into an interesting derby day battle with both sides playing their part in an entertaining encounter without too many clear cut chances being created.

It was the hosts that created their clearest chance on 24 minutes when a quickly taken free kick from Grant Spencer found an unmarked Ryan Salmon whose header clipped the bar and went over to the relief of the visitors defence.  Amazingly the away side responded with an opening of their own which also resulted in a header hitting the crossbar, this time the ball bounced down and was cleared by a grateful Ramsbottom defence.

The match burst into life on 33 minutes when a clash between the Rams bustling centre forward Ryan Salmon and Radcliffe captain Jacques Kpohomouh which resulted in the two players going head to head and Salmon falling to the ground holding his face, the referee pulled out the red card and Radcliffe were down to ten men, Salmon was yellow carded for his part in the incident.

This gave the Rams a numerical advantage which took only three minutes to bear fruition when a ball was crossed towards the head of Ryan Salmon whose powerful header smacked against the underside of the bar and over the line according to the linesman flagging furiously, Max Hazeldine followed up to make sure the Rams had gone in front but it was Salmon’s goal to give the hosts a lead they ultimately wouldn’t surrender.

The Radcliffe woodwork was hit twice in a two minute period just before half time, firstly when a Spencer cross was smacked against the bar via the head of the impressive Max Hazeldine and again when wide man Alaster Redmayne shot from the left hand side of the box glancing the outside of the post after good work from Dean Stott.

At the half time break the Rams were leading and on top after the visitors had been reduced to ten men, hopes were high that the home side could get their third home win of 2017.

The second half began with neither manager deciding to make any changes to their starting line ups and within a minute of the restart home striker Hazeldine was brought down and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. The responsibility fell to the spirited Ryan Salmon but the spot kick was saved by visiting keeper Kyle Haslam.

Would the Rams regret the golden opportunity to take a two goal lead?

Thankfully not as the hugely talented right foot of Grant Spencer sent a 56th minute free kick from the left side of the penalty area whistling into the top right hand corner of the Radcliffe net, Regular visitors to the Riverside will have seen a number of goals that could qualify for the clubs goal of the season, this strike should definitely be on that list too.  This was the first time Mark Fell’s side had gained a two goal home advantage since early February against Brighouse.

The home sides’ first change occurred a minute after the second goal resulting in Jamie Rother being replaced by Damian Green.

Indeed it was Green who received a short corner on 64 minutes and sent a perfect ball onto the head of Salmon who registered his 16th goal of the season and give the Rams a three goal margin.

This allowed home manager Mark Fell to replace Grant Spencer and two-goal Ryan Salmon with Lee Botham and Lee Gaskell with around 20 minutes remaining.  The home side increased their lead when Hazeldine was brought down in the penalty area, again referee Craig Buxton pointed to the spot and within two minutes of entering the field Lee Gaskell scored his obligatory penalty to give the home side a 4-0 lead.  Since Gaskell’s return in early March the striker has netted eight goals including 6 penalties in just 11 appearances, those stats speak for themselves.

The remaining 20 or so minutes were fairly comfortable for the Rams with Radcliffe not seriously testing home goalkeeper Martin Fearon in the second period.  The only real moment of note for the last 15 minutes occurred when visiting goal keeper Haslam rushed out of his penalty area to take down the raiding Redmayne on the left touchline!  A yellow card was brandished for his indiscretion.

The Ramsbottom supporters could enjoy the rest of the game knowing three points were on their way, as if to lift the mood further the sunshine made an appearance.  As a football fan days like these should be enjoyed.  It would be wrong for me not to give a mention to Regan Jarrett who on his first start for the club showed great promise and should be proud of his contribution in a strong team performance.

It has been nine winless games for this Ramsbottom United team but this welcome and deserved victory gave the home fans something to remember on the final home fixture of a season that has certainly not been dull.

It is impossible to know how Radcliffe being reduced to ten men affected the outcome of the game but the whole Ramsbottom United team showed effort, determination, a willingness to fight for each other and the shirt, as a fan that counts for an awful lot.

Ramsbottom United: Martin Fearon, Dean Stott (capt), Tom Murphy, Jamie Rother, Luke Thompson, Bradley Roscoe, Regan Jarrett, Grant Spencer, Ryan Salmon, Max Hazeldine, Alaster Redmayne.  Subs: Jack Corcoran, Damian Green (for Rother 57mins), Lee Gaskell (for Salmon 70mins), Lee Botham (for Spencer 66mins), Dean Hardy.

Radcliffe Borough: Kyle Haslam, Jermaine Metz, Jack O’Leary, Lassana Nalatche, Ryan Eiselt, Jacques Kpohomouh (capt), Stan Zhekov, Luke Moran, Lewis Reilly, Connor Ready, Elliot Rokka.  Subs: Lloyd Dube-Palmer (for Metz 76mins), Timmy Raheem (for Zhekov 65mins), Jack Hindle (for Rokka 65mins), Dan Burns, Kris Leigh.

Referee: Craig Buxton (Accrington).

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