There are two perspectives from which this result can be judged. The first by reference to the score line alone would suggest another heavy defeat for a young lightweight team whose recent form of three unbeaten games going into the match was nothing more than a cruel mirage which disappeared into the mists of reality once the Rams came up against a well organised team.
HYDE UNITED 5 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0
Saturday 24th October 2015
The second perspective would point to a game in which apart from 20 minutes of panicked disintegration – 20 minutes either side of half time in which they shipped in 5 goals all scored with consummate ease – the Rams competed well, created some good openings and never let their heads drop.
As always the truthful assessment would be somewhere between those two extremes starting with an acknowledgement that while they were comfortably beaten on the day it was not to the extent that the score suggested but the residual problems of lack of physical presence and leadership in the centre of midfield and defence remain all too obvious.
For the first 30 minutes it was all about waiting for a contest to break out. Both teams played pleasing if somewhat ineffectual football around the centre circle and with Matt Crothers and Alex Meaney combining well, there was the promise of the Rams getting something from the game. The new management team have adopted the slightly risky if not overly optimistic strategy of leaving four men upfront when the opposition have a corner. Hyde sensing that one of the Rams strengths is not a smooth sharp transition from defence to attack declined to respond with appropriate caution so when a corner was only half cleared the Rams found themselves outnumbered on the edge of their box. The ball was moved easily and quickly to Scott Spencer who side footed home from 12 yards.
The Hyde threat down the right had been steadily growing. Four minutes later Ben Woods found himself exposed and unable to prevent a raking diagonal ball which Spencer chested down, floated past his marker and sent in a shot which Grant Shenton did well to save but only into the path of Ayrton Bevins who prodded in. With the majority of the visiting fans of drinking age sloping off to the bar for calming half time sustenance any prospects of a Rams revival disappeared when Spencer again found space down the right and fired in a shot from a narrow angle that somehow seemed to defeat Shenton in the flight.
3-0 half time became 5-0 just three minutes into the second half as Spencer completed his hat-rick at the far post and then Bevins skipping past a statuesque rearguard to calmly fire past Shenton.
At that stage the type of complete disintegration in organisation and morale experienced at Nantwich seemed on the cards but the Rams made intelligent changes, regained some degree of composure and in the last 30 minutes or so carved out a number of good chances. Shelton Payne, while lacking in pace, brought some guile into the attack and linked well with Jordan Bovey who will be hoping that there was no-one there from his parent club Oldham Athletic to see him side foot wide when set free in the box by a neat Payne pull back.
So the Rams remain rooted to the bottom of the table but far from being out of touch of safety in a season in which the NPL is looking like a league of two halves in which all those teams below 14th are vulnerable and any type of consistent run could propel them from nowhere to somewhere – but the run needs to start sooner rather than later.