Any belief that a final programme of 3 home games against fellow teams in the nether regions of the division would provide an easy route to the three points that secured the Rams retention of their NPL position was more than dispelled by a nervy evening against this former colliery team. How precious in the light of this point was the marvellous triumph on the road at Barwell on Saturday.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0 FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 0
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 22nd April 2015
Frickley arrived in pretty much the same position the Rams found themselves on Saturday – needing three points to be certain of safety. As may be expected from a club founded on the pride, passion and togetherness of the coalmine, they were not going to be easy pushovers. Apart from the absence of goals, the structure of the game largely followed the earlier meeting in Yorkshire with the Rams the much better team in the first half and Frickley coming strong in the second.
The best hopes of a goal for the Rams came from Lee Neville’s incursions from full-back down the left and the industry and awkwardness of player-manager Jon Robinson who, having announced (again) his permanent retirement as a player, ran around the pitch with the energy of old. But apart from his header over from a great Neville cross and a volley wide from Jamie Rother, following a neat diagonal from the same source, the Rams really did not trouble the towering partnership of John Cyrus and Jameel Ible at the heart of the Frickley defence. This was a two man picket line who on the evidence are as good a central defensive pairing as anything in the league.
With Witton Albion in front at half-time, the need for Frickley to up the ante was obvious and from the restart they threw players forward, finding it easy to exploit the Rams systemic weakness on the right. On the hour, Matthew Bloor thought he had scored after neat control and sharp movement had opened up space on the edge of the box. His low shot had Grant Shenton beaten but passed just the wrong side of the post and then prolific scorer Gavin Allott might have done better at the far post with Shenton somewhat stretched by a cross. In between, the Rams attacks tended to be sporadic, lopsided and congested. Lee Gaskell’s free kick from the edge of the box brought a good save from Ben Simpson but the keeper was otherwise untroubled.
In added time, Frickley thought they had grabbed what to the impartial observer would not have been an undeserved winner but, with Shenton beaten, a shot was deflected onto the top of the bar and over, leaving the visitors holding their heads at the final whistle moments after – but results elsewhere and the combination of final day fixtures may mean that the point may be enough for them.
The Rams are now at home to already relegated Trafford on Thursday and then host Matlock Town on Saturday, hoping for the first home win in the current era and anticipating a as glorious a final swansong for Jon Robinson as when ol’ blue eyes left Vegas for the last time – but then again, how many retirements did he have??
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), Kyle Harrop, Lee Neville, Matthew Burke, Mark Ayres, Alex Frost, David Kuba-Kuba, Jamie Rother, Jon Robinson, Lee Gaskell, Luke Heron. Subs: Philip Edghill, Osebi Abadaki (for Heron 67mins), George Bowyer (for Kuba-Kuba 76mins), Tom Hartley, Jake Cliffe (for Burke 87mins).
Referee: David Benton (Sheffield)