The virtue of participation in this particular competition has been the subject of justifiable debate and with league fixtures beginning to pile up, exit from it could well be the silver lining in the cloud of defeat.


Nonetheless, there will be concerns at the rather insipid performance given by the Rams against a team three levels lower in the football pyramid.  So while the defeat might easily be met with an unconcerned shrug of the shoulders, the Rams might reflect that that you must never forget who you are and from whence you came if you are to know where you are going.

To be fair, there were extenuating circumstances apart from the distraction of the imminent Stockport County game in the FA Trophy on Saturday.  Firstly, the 1914 Christmas Day game in no-man’s land could easily have been postponed if presented with a pitch of this abject quality and next, the Collieries second goal was not so much hand ball as a delicate trap of the ball in the crook of the arm, followed by an elegant roll of it down the arm to hand and placement onto the foot of the Collieries forward.  If this has been a Test cricket match, there would have been no need for a referral to the third umpire to see if it was a fair catch or not.

Over concentration on those issues would, though, be sour grapes and a denial of a well deserved win by the home team.  There has been a groundhog day element to many of the goals conceded by the Rams this season, stemming from an all-out attack on the opposition goal.  On 15 minutes, a scramble in the Collieries box was converted in second to a goal at the other end.

The reverse failed to rouse the Rams and it was not until they conceded the disputed second goal, mid way through the second half that they raised themselves from lethargy.

Five minutes later, Grant Spencer curled in a delightful free kick with his first touch after coming on and for the remaining 15 minutes or so, the Rams attacked with something like the urgency and style that might be been expected.  The equaliser would not come nor really was it deserved and the Collieries were left to savour another notable scalp in their incredible season.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Spencer, Dominic Smalley, George Grayson, Gary Stopforth, Steven Howson, Lee Pugh, Tom Williams, Scott Burton, Jon Robinson, Tom Brooks, Osebi Abadaki.  Subs: Phil Dean )for Williams 31mins), Grant Spencer (for Abadaki 73mins), Jordan Hulme (for Robinson 73mins), Tom Hartley, Bernard Morley.

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