Ramsbottom United had the perfect opportunity to put Saturday’s unlucky defeat to Bamber Bridge behind them on Tuesday night as a much changed Rams side took on a Brighouse outfit that had won just once on their travels this season. 

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 3 October 2017
The Evo-Stik North
Attendance: 189

The home side began the contest with the versatile Sam Heathcote in a central striking role as injury and unavailability deprived the Rams of their usual options up front, Liam Brownhill made his debut at right back and Ben Richardson proving his adaptability in a left full back berth.

Both sides showed their attacking intent in the early period of the contest but it was the Rams that opened the scoring when on 13 minutes a typically strong left wing run and cross from the hugely influential Jerome Wright found Heathcote whose shot beat visiting keeper Hallwood as the home side took a deserved lead.

Ramsbottom appeared to have more of a threat going forward and looked the more likely team to add to the scoreline in a scrappy opening half hour with Brighouse unable to seriously test Danny Taberner in the home goal.

Perhaps the best chance came minutes before half time when a Grant Spencer free kick was headed back from the byline into the penalty area by Roscoe before being met by Luke Thompson whose powerful header flew over the crossbar.

This was the last chance in a fairly quiet first half as the Rams held a deserved but slender lead going into the break with the visitors unable to muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

Ramsbottom began the second period in blistering fashion and looked to extend their advantage with a series of presentable chances. Daniels was at his skilful best to control a difficult pass before turning and testing the Brighouse keeper before the same player sent in a corner that Roscoe almost connected with at the far post.

The home sides attacking quartet were linking up well in the opening stages of the second half as the Rams gained a reward for their bright start when Greg Daniels skipped past a couple of Brighouse challenges before feeding the ball through to Heathcote who unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past the Brighouse keeper to give the makeshift striker his second goal of the match and fourth of the season.

The move to play Sam Heathcote in a central striker role was proving to be a masterstroke from Rams manager Mark Fell, the reliable defender was thoroughly justifying the decision as his hold up play and work rate was excellent throughout.

The Rams almost increased their lead around the hour mark when Daniels had a goal bound effort cleared off the line  by a visiting defender which surely would have put the result beyond doubt.

In somewhat fortuitous circumstances Brighouse found a way back into the match almost immediately as Taberner punched out a vicious in-swinging corner onto Normanton and somehow the ball found its way over the line as the visitors reduced the arrears.

The Rams then replaced the creative Spencer with the pacey Regan Jarrett on 64 minutes as the game was beginning to have an open feel to it as Brighouse sensed they could force an equaliser.

Indeed the visitors had two presentable chances to level the match, firstly a whipped in free kick was headed over the bar before a cross from the opposite side was again despatched over the woodwork from a well-placed Brighouse forward much to the relief of the Rams players and supporters.

The excellent Heathcote was replaced by Alex Meaney with 15 minutes remaining as the home side looked to close out the match. The energetic Wright stung the palms of Hallwood again after a trademark run down the left hand side as the contest entered the final ten minutes.

With Brighouse throwing caution to the wind and pushing for an equaliser the Rams had Luke Thompson to thank for preserving their lead when a dangerous cross from the by-line looked destined to reach a Brighouse forward 8 yards from goal before Thompson acrobatically cleared the danger.

As the final whistle sounded the Rams had earned a valuable three points from a hard fought contest and rose to fifth in the league table.  Perhaps a statistic worth noting is that this was only the third time in 16 attempts since the beginning of last season that Ramsbottom United had tasted victory in a league game on a Tuesday night.

Manager Mark Fell commented on the victory below:-
No doubt we did enough for all the points and when you consider we played a centre half up front, had to make 3 changes in the back 4 due to injury, and had to rush Spenny back earlier than we would have liked, it was a good display. Again we’ve had enough chances to win several games, but we managed to stifle them when they got back into it at 2-1 and other than that goal from a corner and a couple of other half chances from set plays they’ve not offered a lot. For us it’s an important win, puts us back in the playoffs and I hope we can put in another progressive display in the Trophy on Saturday. I felt Dean Stott was outstanding tonight, we patched him up and sent him out there and the work he does in the background of the game is unbelievable, he had 100% ball retention tonight and barely takes more than 1 touch. Ben Richardson did great at left back and Liam Brownhill looked assured on the other side. We hope to have a couple back from injury on Saturday and I’m sure it’ll be an excellent game, we need the people of Rammy out in force to get us a 300+ crowd again and support the lads in a big game”

Ramsbottom United: Taberner, Brownhill, Richardson, Stott, Thompson, Roscoe, Spencer (Jarrett 64mins), Moran, Heathcote (Meaney 76mins)  Daniels (Ashburner 90mins),Wright. Sub not used: Poscha

        FA TROPHY PRLIMINARY ROUND     RAMS v Colwyn Bay     3.00pm
SATURDAY 14th OCTOBER      THE EVO-STIK NORTH           Skelmersdale United v RAMS    3.00pm                                                                    

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