Having been in front for the best part of 80 minutes, the Rams will have come away disappointed to have only one point but, in truth, that was a fair result and further evidence that there are no easy games in this division.
In picturesque surroundings and with a festive fun fare nearby, it looked like another joyful away day was forthcoming against a team whose home form has been, at best, indifferent so far this season.
On a difficult pitch, on which even the waltzer across the way would have found difficult to turn, the Matlock central pairing of Adam Yates and Ellis Humble initially found it hard to settle with the Rams pushing forward in their customary fashion down the flanks. They were a goal up after just 10 minutes when Tom Williams forced home a flick on at the far post but thereafter, slowly but surely, ceded the initiative to the home team without looking like conceding, except for a rare slip from Cedric Krou which let in Corey Gregory.
A one-nil lead though for the Rams hold more promise than expectation of a win. The turning point came with 20 minutes left.
First, Grant Spencer broke clear but on this occasion his trademark chip over the advancing keeper lacked height and the Matlock custodian Jon Kennedy palmed wide. From the corner, Matlock cleared off the line and then Jordan Hulme concerted Phil Dean’s deflected cross onto to be denied by a flag requiring slide rule precision.
That second goal would have put the game away for the Rams despite their intricate approach play having just about floundered on the uneven pitch. Jordan Hulme was finding himself as isolated as the castle on the hill overlooking the ground and Scott Burton and Gary Stopforth being outnumbered and manoeuvered in midfield. With five minutes left, Lee Pugh somehow managed to turn away a goal bound shot up and onto the bar for a corner. THe Rams failed to switch back on and, from the corner, a weak clearance found Niall McManus on the edge of the box and his shot flew in off the underside of the bar.
With all the teams around them winning and a challenging run of games in front of them, The Rams will feel that this was two points lost in the Peaks.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton, Dominic Smalley, Lee Pugh, Gary Stopforth, Steve Howson, Cedric Krou, Tom Williams, Scott Burton, Jordan Hulme, Grant Spencer, Phil Dean. Subs: George Grayson, Osebi Abadaki, David Kuba-Kuba (for Dean 78mins), Jon Robinson (for Spencer 78mins), Tom Brooks.
FOOTBALL REMEMBERS WEEK
As part of the Football Association’s remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Christmas Truce during World War I, the two sides stood side-by-side on Saturday for a special ‘mixed’ team picture, a scene which was taking place across the land from the very top divisions of the professional game to the ranks of junior and mini football being played on parks and fields around the country.
It symbolized the togetherness shown by the troops on opposing sides on that Christmas Day in 1914 when the British and Germans stopped to enjoy a game of football.
MATLOCK TOWN and RAMSBOTTOM UNITED PLAYERS STAND TOGETHER TO REMEMBER THE 1914 CHRISTMAS TRUCE
(picture taken by Richard Isaacs of Ramsbottom United)