Ramsbottom United completed their league campaign with a trip to already relegated Burscough with Gareth Seddon being given the captain’s arm band on his final appearance before retiring from football at the age of 36.

Victoria Park, Burscough
Saturday 22nd April 2017
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 55

Paul Linwood also returned to the starting line in place of Grant Spencer from the team that beat Radcliffe on Easter Monday.  The Rams started the match with three central defenders with Reagan Jarrett and Tom Murphy being utilised as wing backs hoping to give the side some width in a change of formation from recent weeks.

On a sunny day in West Lancashire the visitors started the match positively with Jarrett making a strong run down the right hand side against a Burscough side that had managed to win only four home games all season.

Indeed the Rams had the first chance of the game on seven minutes when a Seddon free kick on the left hand side of the box not only beat the home keeper Morrow but also the post too with a curling effort.

The new look formation appeared to give Ramsbottom the territorial advantage in the opening 20 minutes with shots from Max Hazeldine, Reagan Jarrett and Ryan Salmon not testing the home stopper.

The home side then began to get more of a foothold in the contest and good play down the left hand side by the lively Josh Nicholson resulted in an effort that tested Martin Fearon who saved well low down to his right.  Both teams traded shots without either goalkeeper being seriously tested on an uneven looking surface that made good football a challenge.

Just after the half hour good work by Murphy down the left hand side gave Seddon who was playing in a deeper role a chance to get the goal that the visiting supporters craved but the well hit shot missed the target.

The first half came to a close with the Rams creating a couple more half chances through the hard working duo of Salmon and Hazeldine without tangible success and the half time whistle blew with the game goalless.

With both sides not having anything to play for other than pride, the second half began with the same 22 players on the pitch with the hope that Ramsbottom United could finish the season on a positive note.

Only five minutes into the second period the Rams took the lead when Murphy galloped forward down the left wing to send a cross fizzing across the six yard box which eluded the onrushing Hazledine at the near post but there was Ryan Salmon to tap the ball into the net to score his 17th goal of the season.

The setback appeared to inspire the home side as Burscough set about squaring the contest with a positive response resulting in a couple of efforts towards the Rams goal.  Firstly a move down the visitors right hand side resulted in a shot which sailed over the crossbar, the next on 54 minutes later produced an excellent flying save from Fearon denying home striker Stephen Milne from equalising.

Ramsbottom’s manager Mark Fell made the first move from the substitute bench on 58 minutes when Damian Green replaced Max Hazeldine resulting in Gareth Seddon moving further forward to partner Salmon and Green slotting into a midfield role.

Burscough created another presentable opportunity just after the hour mark when more good work down the left flank produced a cross which was headed over the away sides crossbar.  The Rams new look defensive formation were being tested by the bottom side with Luke Thompson and Brad Roscoe their usual combative selves with Paul Linwood using his experience as the middle man of the three central defenders organising the troops.

The match was an open affair with both sides looking to end the season on a positive note, there was a thought that the scoring was not over with as further chances were being created by both sides with the Rams looking to catch the hosts on the break.  Clear cut chances were at a premium for Ramsbottom United but the superbly consistent Dean Stott marshaling the midfield with his usual effort and determination.

The hard working Jamie Rother made way for Lee Gaskell on the 75 minute mark, against another encouraging performance from Rother whose season has been decimated through injury.  The chance resulted in Seddon dropping back to the positive he began the match with Gaskell joining Salmon up front.

Almost immediately Burscough went onto the attack and the impressive Nicholson weaved his way past the Rams challenges to fire a shot that clipped the bar and went over for a goal kick to the relief of the travelling support that made up a large percentage of the crowd.

The home team then set about trying to equalise with Gilchrist having a shot parried by Fearon and a free kick on the edge of the visitors penalty box cleared the defensive wall before sailing over.

With the contest entering the last ten minutes, the Rams began to keep control of the possession and looked more of an attacking threat as the campaign was ticking to its conclusion.  On 86 minutes the Rams doubled their lead when bustling centre forward Ryan Salmon closed down a back pass to home goalkeeper Ben Morrow before dispossessing him and rolling the ball into an empty net to claim his 18th goal of a profitable season and his fifth goal in the last three games for the front man.

The end of Gareth Seddon’s playing career ended on 86 minutes when he was replaced by Lee Botham to a round of applause from those in attendance at Victoria Park.  Seddon has scored 13 goals for the Rams this season and it would be negligent not to pass on thanks for his efforts this year and best wishes for whatever he does in the future.

The final chance of the match came with two minutes remaining when Salmon’s strong run ended with a pass to Damian Green whose shot was parried by the Burscough keeper.

As the referee blew his whistle after three added minutes, the 2016/17 season was over with a 2-0 success in the final game of the season.  The Rams ended the campaign with two wins and it should be noted that since the turn of the year, the team have only lost two games from the eleven games played away from the HWRS.

The players, staff and supporters thanked each other for their efforts throughout the season with a collective and very appreciative round of applease.

It remains to be seen which players will return next season when hopes will be high for a successful season and an improvement on the 14th place finish under Mark Fell and his staff when the 2017/18 campaign starts in August.

Enjoy the summer!

Burscough: Ben Morrow, Martyn Jackson, Danny Ashburner, Sean Richards, Deklan Hill, Jonah O’Reilly, Phil Bannister (capt), Anthony Donaldson, Adam Gilchrist, Stephen Milne, Josh Nicholson.  Subs: Peter Smith, Ethan Smith, Msatt Maddon, Jake Ellis, Liam Davies.

Ramsbotton United: Martin Fearon, Reagan Jarrett, Tom Murphy, Bradley Roscoe, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Jamie Rother, Dean Stott, Ryan Salmon, Max Hazledine, Gareth Seddon (capt).  Subs: Lee Botham (for Seddon 86min), Lee Gaskell (for Rother 74mins), Jack Corcoran, Damien Green (for Hazledine 57mins), Dean Hardy.

Referee: Sam Mulhall.

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