The battle of the two form sides predictably finished all square in an entertaining afternoon at the Tameside Stadium.

The Rams, however, came very close to ending the only unbeaten league record in the top eight tiers of English football, as they finally succumbed to an equaliser four minutes from time.

The visitors took the game to their opponents in the first half, and opened the scoring after just six minutes.

A speculative shot from the edge of the area was spilled by Anthony Thompson in the home goal, and Dominic Smalley, following up, reacted quickest to dart in before the keeper could recover, to fire home from close range.

Sam Walker, minutes later, almost snatched an equaliser, but Grant Shenton in the Rams goal blocked his close range effort.

Both sides showed plenty of commitment, but it was the Rams who seemed to be edging the first period, with Smalley causing all sorts of problems down the right wing.

After 32 minutes, however, captain Danny Warrender had to leave the field resulting in a re-shuffle that saw Smalley move back to a more defensive role, which lessened the Rams attacking flair, as Phil Dean, on the other flank was having an unusually quiet afternoon.

Dean did though send in a tempting cross that was just too far ahead of Gaskell before United doubled their lead.

On 37 minutes, Jordan Hulme, on for Warrender, gathered the ball to the right of the penalty area before creating space to feed the on-rushing Gaskell, who fired home from ten yards out.

Billy Priestley thought he had notched a third on the stroke of half-time, but the referee chalked it off for a foul on Thompson.

Having no doubt had a serious talking to at half-time, the hosts came out for the second half in much more determined mood, and reduced the arrears within two minutes.

Shenton dived to his left to keep out a goal-bound shot, but Chris Rowney was on hand to tap the ball into the empty net.

Three minutes later an almost identical move saw Matthew Warburton fire in another low drive that beat Shenton, but this time the ball bounced back into play off the foot of the post.

The Rams finally managed to escape the early barrage, as Grant Spencer watched as his 20 yard drive deflected behind off a team-mate, then Gaskell weaved his way into the box only to finish weakly.

Billy Priestly had to be alert to head a dangerous cross behind for a Curzon corner, then a back-pedalling defence allowed Walker the space to advance before blasting in a 25 yard effort that swept past the post.

Rowney lifted a half-clearance too high as the home side went for an equaliser their second half display deserved, but gradually the Rams began to wrestle the game back.

Spencer took a cheeky free-kick from fully 45 yards that just cleared the home bar, quickly followed by a surging run from Dean that saw him unceremoniously upended 25 yards from goal. Owen Roberts took the resultant free-kick which had Thompson at full stretch to turn the ball round for a corner.

The Rams had Dean to thank for coming to the rescue by scooping a close range ball for a corner before Shenton was called upon to deal with a well-struck free kick from Warburton.

With the minutes ticking down, Spencer lost the ball in midfield, allowing the home side to race forward. The ball was rolled into the path of the unmarked Niall Cummins to the left of the area, and he confidently struck the ball past Shenton to level the scores.

Both sides went looking for a late winner, with Roberts curling another free-kick agonisingly wide, and Gaskell flicking a long cross from Spencer into the side netting, before the referee blew for full time, with both sides continuing their fine run and deservedly sharing the points.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Lomax, Roberts, Stopforth, Warrender(Hulme 32mins), Priestley, Smalley, Spencer, Gaskell, Pilkington, Dean(Robinson 84miins). Subs not used: Toth, Brooks, Edghill

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