It took 108 days and 11 league encounters but the Rams finally secured an Evo-Stik Premier Division success with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Stourbridge down in the Black Country on Tuesday evening.

War Memorial Athletic Ground, Stourbridge
Tuesday 10 March 2015
Attendance: 230

At last, after nearly four months and having only 2 points from the last 30, the Rams have got back to winning ways to the palpable relief of managements, players and the hardy and vociferous hardcore group who follow them.

Lets not get carried away – there was more than a little nervousness in the difficulty in securing any control of the ball in the last 30 minutes, when Stourbridge were pressing hard for an equaliser, to suggest that there is still much improvement needed.  But there was enough in the performance, and more to the point team spirit, to suggest that flirting with the relegation places should now be a thing of the past.  So while not quite Michelangelo, certainly a bit of a renaissance and while Lazarus might not yet be restored to the full bloom of health, the stone has at least rolled from the door.

And even better, the win secured despite going behind after only a couple of minutes – the Rams defence failing to close down Reece Hales who left Grant Shenton with no chance with a delicately judged chip into the far corner.  But that was just about the last time that the defence, bolstered by the return of Mark Ayres, showed any sign of weakness or indecision.  Full-backs Kyle Harrop and Lee Neville never let attackers get beyond them, declined to dive into the tackle and, with Ayres and Alex Frost well organised, Stourbridge were left with shooting hopelessly from distance.

At the other end, the Rams introduced new signing Vinny Mukendi up front.  At six foot and a lot, he certainly brought presence and a degree of combativeness up front, if not just a little of Mario Balotelli’sh insouciance to the team – not least by his muted response to putting the Rams level after 25 minutes with a lashed shot that flew past Dean Coleman having been neatly set up by Donal McDermott.

Two minutes later, the Rams were in front.  Osebi Abadaki got to the bye line and his low cross found McDermott outside the far post and with a narrow angle.  Feigning to shoot, he instead fed the ball to Jamie Rother on the edge of the box and his shot rattled in off the underside of the bar.

For a while, the Rams rediscovered the slick passing form that for so long as appeared lost and could easily have put the game to bed with 30 minutes left when Mukendi charged down a clearance and was left clear in the box but shot hard and high at the keeper when anything low to the ground would have done.

From there it got nervy but now playing like their lives depend on it, the Rams defended resolutely, threw bodies in the way of shots and played some astute balls down the flanks to a willing Mukendi who could easily become a folk hero overnight (or frustration) to run down the clock.

So now it is Stourbridge once again on Saturday – this time at home – and anything like a repeat performance should see another three points bagged.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), Kyle Harrop, Lee Neville, Phil Edghill, Alex Frost, Mark Ayres, Osebi Abadaki, Jamie Rother, Vinny Mkendi, Chris Baguley, Donal McDermott.  Subs: Tom Hartley, Tom Brooks (for Abadaki 78mins), Malachi Slaven, George Bowyer (for Rother 88mins), Luke Heron (for McDermott 83mins).

Goals: Vinny Mkendi (23), Jamie Rother (26)


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