Before the match on seeing the Barwell keeper Liam Castle pull off a brilliant save in the warm-up, some wag in the crowd shouted that would be the last save he would make all night. “Be careful what you wish for” might have been the retort because in the 90 minutes of actual football, the keeper was not called on to make another save.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0 BARWELL 1
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 24 March 2015
To be fair, Tom Brooks was twice unfortunate to see shots hit the outside of the post with the keeper beaten as was vinny Mukendi, who saw a neat header bend wide of the post with Castle grasping nothing but air.
And then, almost on the final minute, Brooks, sent clear by a delicious dummy by Jon Robinson, went too wide in evading the keeper and as the ball bobbled could not direct his shot on goal. So ended a very frustrating and disappointing match in which neither team contributed much that pleased the eye and the fatigue of the previous week’s exertions finally caught up with the Rams.
As always, the effort was there but against teams with the ability to move groups of players around the ball, such as Barwell, the Rams struggle as players in possession are too often isolated. For Mukendi to be effective, a way has to be found to get someone close to him to feed off his knock-ons – and the right kind of ball has to be played to him. Brooks has done a great job in the last couple of weeks playing in a narrower position on the right hand side but need as needs must, has the time arrived for the Rams to abandon the policy of playing two out and out wide men and concentrate more on a tighter mobile midfield quartet?
On the right, Lee Neville was against the mainstay of a resilient back four and Grant Shenton pulled off two good saves to keep the Rams in with a chance of the equaliser. But the home side remain vulnerable to the high ball.
Just before the half-hour Jamie Towers, who certainly does, rose unimpeded at the far post and redirected a firm header back across the goal for Dominic Brennan to score at the near post.
So the good ship Ramsbottom, battered, bruised and weary but still afloat, sails tattered and jury rigged and prepared to plough on through the stormy seas to the next port – Grantham Town – on Saturday.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), Kyle Harrop, Lee Neville, Matthew Burke, Mark Ayres, George Bowyer, Tom Brooks, David Kuba-Kuba, Vinny Mukendi, Lee Gaskell, Donal McDermott. Subs: Luke Heron (for McDermott 38mins), Tom Williams, Ian Bennett (for Burke 82mins), Jamie Rother, Jon Robinson (for Mukendi 65mins).