This was a very comfortable and largely untroubled victory for FC United of Manchester, who are now just three points away from assured promotion.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 4th April 2015
Attendance: 2,104 (Ramsbottom United home attendance record)

Apart from a brilliantly understated performance from Callum Byrne, there was little to delight in a tepid and sometimes tedious stop start match not helped by some over fussy refereeing.  The visitors must have contributed at least 70% of the record 2,104 crowd at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium and being so close to promotion, it was perhaps to be expected that the red hordes would descend with no little swagger.

It was a great disappointment though that a very small minority of their supporters rather spoilt what could and should have been a festive Easter atmosphere by indulging in abusive foul mouthed vitriol and venom against the home team and its supporters.  It was a throw back to the dark ages of professional football which drove so may supporters to this level of football.  It would be wrong to castigate the majority for the failings of the few but there is a great danger of FC United of Manchester becoming no better than they ought to be, mini-me clones of the club they abandoned for some thing new cleaner and fresher – which would be great shame.

None of which detracts from their performance on the pitch and a well earned promotion.  It is not to damn Callum Byrne with faint praise to say he is only capable of doing the simple thing.  The ability he has to find space time and awareness to do it – and do it quickly accurately and effectively – marks him out as an exceptional performer at this level.  The fact that the Rams disdained to try to man mark him or even get anyone close to him helped of course – but he did not need any invitation to shuffle back and forth along the half way line barely needing to make a tackle, almost constantly in possession and finding teammates with neat progressive passes.

For the first 30 minutes or so, aided by the slow pace of the game, the Rams rather held their own and could have taken the lead after 10 minutes when David Kuba-Kuba’s shot was turned wide after a strong run from the half way line got him into the box.  But once FCUM took the lead on the half hour from the penalty spot after Shelton Payne found a defending leg to fall over the game was all but over as a contest.

The Rams, as is their norm, battled away and Mark Ayres and George Bowyer where resolute at the back.  But as a team the Rams are vertically challenged and hence constantly susceptible to the dead ball.

It was from that route that FCUM scored the second goal that put any doubt in the final outcome firmly to rest.  Rory Fallon found it all to easy to spin of his marker at the far post and head in a teasing out-swinging corner from almost under the bar.  A neat, well worked goal.

While they were well beaten on the day the Rams were far from disgraced.  The resilience they showed in the face of a very good team marks the progress they are making.  With results going their way and a healthy goal difference compared with those around them another, three or four points from the last 8 matches should see them comfortably safe.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), Kyle Harrop, Lee Neville, Ian Bennett, Mark Ayres, George Bowyer, David Kuba-Kumba, Jamie Rother, Jon Robinson, Lee Gaskell, Luke Heron.  Subs: Osebi Abadaki (for Neville 45mins), Vinny Mukendi (for Robinson 45mins), Matt Burke (for Rother 69mins), Tom Hartley, Callum Jones.

Referee: Helen Byrne (Liverpool)

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