The harsh truth about the outcome of this game which nobody was really looking forward to and where more than happy to come away from at the final whistle is that it could easily have ended up in a score approaching double figures if the home team could have been bothered to get out of second gear, let alone third.
SALFORD CITY 4 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Moor Lane, Salford
Tuesday 2 February 2016
The gulf in class, experience and know-how was no wide than the disparate and debilitating gap in funding could be expected to produce so a defeat was always on the cards despite recent promising performances. But the bitter truth in a cold and inhospitable night made worse by the weather is that the inadequacies of the Rams squad generally and cover in crucial areas so paper thin as to be transparent were cruelly exposed.
The warning bells were there from even before kick-off with the news that Nia Bayunu was unavailable through injury and the head scratching decision to revert to a lone man playing up front. The speculation that this was down to concerns about the fitness of Danny Wilkins has to be discounted by the fact he was fit enough to be on the bench and came on in the second half as a direct replacement for Michael Oates. If the purpose of playing five in midfield is to form a solid block in front of the defence, it simply does not work either because of organisation or personnel or both.
And so it was that Salford went into the lead after just five minutes, finding oceans of time and space down the right and then in the box freeing up Richie Allen to score with ease at the far post. From there, the game settled down into a pattern of the Rams trying to play neat football to feet but unable to support the man in possession who then found himself outmuscled on the ball and Salford moving the ball swiftly forward only to be denied on three occasions by the offside flag.
Whether this was by the design of cute defending or carelessness by the attackers is a mute point but the smart money is on the latter. Phil Edghill battled away manfully in a Canute like fashion but his efforts were not sufficient alone to stem the tide.
It was no surprise that Salford doubled the score moments after the Rams first attack of promise just past the half hour. Robbie Bromley did brilliantly to get to the dead ball line and Kayde Coppin was unfortunate to see his strong shot from the cut back blocked. Up the other end went the ball. Allen was again unmarked and with Grant Shenton in no-man’s land hooked home to make it 2-0. If the game was not by then effectively over, it was by half-time – Gareth Seddon floating through a porous defence and slotting home.
To be fair, the Rams never gave up trying to compete or to play football. For long periods of the second half they had, or were allowed, the majority of the ball. Alex Meaney battled way in his customary fashion, Jake Cliffe got himself involved and neat movement released Joel Melia in promising position on several occasions. Nothing came from that and former Ram Steve Howson was untroubled apart from the odd time the referee or linesman did not rule in the manner he was expecting.
With five minutes left the Rams defence, always stretched whenever Salford raised the level of endeavour again opened up obligingly, Shenton raced out, missed his kick and Josh Hine was left with an open goal.
Salford City: Jay Lynch, Evan Gumbs, Steve O’Halloran, Gary Stopforth, Steven Howson, Chris Lynch (capt), John Johnston, Tunji Moses (Luke Clark 61mins), Joshua Hine, Gareth Seddon (Danny Webber 61mins), Richard Allen (James Poole 76mins). Subs not used: Andrew Dawson, Joe Mwasile
Goals: Richard Allen (4mins & 34mins), Gareth Seddon (41mins), Joshua Hine (83mins)
Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (capt), Robbie Bromley, Luke Heron, Cameron Dudley, Phil Edghill, Jake Cliffe, Alex Meaney, Joel Melia, Michael Oates (Danny Wilkins 70mins), Kayde Coppin, Prince Haywood (David Kuba-Kuba 61mins). Subs not used: Dennon Ashcroft, John Pritchard, Rob Black.
Referee: Ben Speedie.