Ramsbottom United v Market Drayton Town

Saturday 18th August 2018

Evo-Stik League First Division West

By Damien Barlow

The day that all football fans eagerly anticipate was once again upon us. The one day of the season where eveyone is equal, and everyone dares to dream – the opening day. Today we kicked off the 2018-2019 season by welcoming Market Drayton Town to the Riverside, for what would be the first meeting between the 2 sides.

With several injuries, suspensions and one delay in international clearence, the home side lined up with a 4141 formation, and 5 debutants featuring in the starting line-up, and a sixth on the bench.

It was the home side who got proceedings underway, and while the first 5 or so minutes lacked any real fluency or controlled possession, the rest of the half certainly belonged to Ramsbottom in what was a dominant display with a continued attack on the final third. The first half-chance that threatened the away goal came in the 7th minute after a mis-placed pass was picked up by Ben Deegan who quickly found Nathan Brown who gave the crowd their first glimse of what he can offer as he dropped his shoulder to lose his man and get his shot away which was parried by the Drayton keeper, unfortunatly Deegan could only push his follow up wide of the post. This was quickly followed up with another very good chance to grab an early goal when again, Brown showed good feet to work a cross into the box which caused problems. Both Rother and Deegan had attempts blocked, and Market Drayton finally cleared their area in a rushed fashion. Ramsbottom were getting a lot of joy down both flanks, both Brown and Jordan looking like they were enjoying themselves, and beating the respective full backs at will. It was Brown again who crafted the next chance as he wriggled free from his 2 close minders and freed Higgs in the box only for his shot to end up behind the goal.

The attacking prowess from the home side showed no sign of letting up, as another early ball out wide, this time down the right to pick out Luke Jordan, again skipped past Myles Arnold with ease sent a ball across the edge of the area, where Higgs once again got his shot away, but sadly with the same end result as his previous effort. As the twentieth minute ticked by, Market Drayton were afforded a rare chance to get a ball in and around the Rammy area. A free kick half way in the home half was sent towards the back post searching out Liam Bood but unfortunate for him, the linesman had given his flag a first outing of the day.

On 22 minutes, quite possibly the pass of the game, as Rob Henry picked out Nathan Brown with a 50 yard pass who controlled instantly and lost his man again, and as he moved menacingly into the area, hit a shot-cum-cross which just passed the far post to the relief of the visiting keeper. On the half hour the corner count was increased again, as Higgs sent an in-swinger to the far post where Ryan Ellison met it with intent and sent it back in to the 6 yard box, where it eventually broke to the impressive Brown who’s shot against the bar deserved better luck. The away clean sheet had been hanging on for dear life almost from the first whistle, and on 31 minutes it finally succumbed to the relentless onslaught, as once again the outlet down the left paid dividends, and while Brown needed 2 attempts to get the ball accross, the latter effort was met with the head of the free Higgs who sent the ball nestling.


The home side were playing with a swagger now and moved the ball with ease with options a plenty for whoever had the ball. This time it was Rother who carried the ball forward, with screams from the advancing Jordan ringng in his ears, he waited for his moment to release the ball sending it into Jordans path who cut inside his man and picked out Higgs on the edge of the area who lost his man with a feign and got his shot away, but again, just wide of the mark.

On 35 minutes, the footballing gods proved again that if you dont take your chances you run the risk of being punished in the harshest way, regardles of whether you deserve to be or not, as a ball forward somehow eluded Phil Dean allowing Will Wells a rare shot at Ashton, and while he did his best to fluff his lines, his scuffed effort found the gambling Charlie Knowles who just had to roll the ball into the unguarded net.


The conceded goal seemed to stun the home side, as within a minute Market Drayton could have had another attempt on goal had they worked it better, fortunatley composure was regained, and familiarity was resumed with Ramsbottom pushing forward looking to restore what would be a much deserved lead. As it was, the scoring was finished for the first half, and as the referee brought it to a close, both teams left the pitch wondering how exactly the score was level – but for very different reasons.


The away side got the second half underway, no doubt with the wrath of their manager still ringing in their ears. The first notable chance came on 48 minutes as the energetic Luke Jordan again broke down the right and sent his ball towards the penalty spot only for the ball to bounce of the covering defender and into the keepers grasp, and much to the disbelief of the visitors the official deemeed it intentional and awarded an indirect free kick. As the home side tried to conjure up a plan to effectivley try and beat 9 keepers from 12 yards it was left to Higgs to roll the ball for Rother to take the brute force approach rather than anything resembling finesse, this crashed against one of the 9 keepers and for now, the danger had passed for Market Drayton.

Ramsbottom continued to get a lot of joy down both flanks and the corners total kept rising. Again Higgs sent in a tempting in-swinger to the far post, and again Ellison got to the ball first but nodded wide of the goal. Just before the hour mark, Rother marauded forward with intent, fnding the ever available Brown who cut inside and returned the ball back to Rother on the edge of the box who in-turn fed his other readily available option for the day in Jordan who for the umpteenth time beat his man cut inside and but directed his effort straight at the chest of the greatful Rawlins. Minutes later, applause was ringing round the HWRS again, as Higgs released Brown down the left with an outside of the foot pass for him to escape his marker took the opportunity to try and get on the score sheet, but sent his effort just wide.



On 67 minutes Phil Dean brought the ball forward over half way, and delicately lifted the ball over Buxton to send Jordan – now operating on the left away down the touch line, looking up to see what was on offer, Brown had made himself available on the edge of the box and was easily picked out, his shot cannoned of an on-rushing defender and away for another corner. The 71st minute brought the 2 best chances of the half to restore the lead. A searching ball forward found Dom Marie on the edge of the box, he got past his man and tried placing his shot which the keeper managed to parry away only for it to fall to Rother who tried lifting the ball back over the recovering stopper, but again he did his bit to take a point back down the M6 for his team.


As the final 10 minutes loomed, Market Drayton found themselves in unfamiliar territory – their attacking final third. A couple of hopeful balls into the box which no-one seemed to either want to attack or defend, was eventully cleared by the Rammy back line and the search for a winner continued. As Brooks found space in the middle, he picked out Jordan who again cut inside to get his shot away and again that was turned away for a corner. The resulting set piece was worked to the edge of the box for Nathan Brown who lofted the ball back towards the goal and only minutes after entering the fray, substitute Luke Thompson got himself between the keeper and ball and nodded into the empty goal.


Ramsbottom saw out the remainder of the game without incident. The four minutes of added time didnt do anything to affect the scoreline, and victory was fully deserved. Although the fluency and tempo may have dropped a little in the second period, the control and application was there to see and enjoyable to watch.

Attendance 166

Teams – Ramsbottom – Ashton, Henry, Dean, Stott (c), Ellison, Downes, Jordan, Rother, Deegan, Higgs, Brown. SUBS Thompson, Brooks, Gaskell, Marie, Robertson (gk).

Market Drayton – Rawlins, Buxton, Arnold, Hartlebury, McMullen, Desean, Ballard, Beddows (c), Bood, Wells, Knowles. SUBS Russell, Sorrentinio, McFarlane, Skelton.

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