Ramsbottom United were held to a 2-2 draw by Kidsgrove in the final game to the league season. Two-nil up at half time, goals from Lee Williamson and a last gasp Anthony Malbon goal denied The Rams three points. The draw confirmed a playoff spot of fifth place and has lead to s semi-final away at Radcliffe Boro this coming Tuesday night.

Chris Willcock named an unchanged side against Kidsgrove from the goalless draw against Radcliffe in the league game on Easter Monday.

The opening ten minutes of the game brought little goalmouth action, yet Rammy were to break the deadlock in the 11th minute. Tom Kennedy’s cross from out wide found Eddie Moran, whose shot on the edge of the box flew past Kidsgrove keeper Kieran Harrison.

After some nice midfield play, The Rams striker should have doubled their lead in the twenty-third minute. Striker Jamie Rainford dribbled past several orange shirts but could only find the side netting with his effort.

The visitors had a quiet opening half an hour in the attacking third, but midfielder Kyle Blake did force Sam Ashton into a save. Blake’s shot was straight at the Rammy keeper. At the other end, Moran could have doubled the home sides advantage but failed to properly test Harrison.

The game took a huge turning point shortly before half time. The visitors were down to ten men when James Butler was given his marching orders, pulling down Rainford as he turned towards goal. The defender looked to be the last man in Grove’s line of defence.

The home side did double their lead immediately after Butler’s sending off. Midfielder Jamie Rother’s fine shot from distance was simply unstoppable, bringing out a loud cheer from the home fans behind the goal.

Rammy had the ball the net again in first-half added time too but this time the goal was disallowed. Rainford’s initial shot was beaten away before his follow up shot burst the net, yet found himself in an offside opposition.

The second half began exactly as the first half started with Ramsbottom firmly on the front foot. Rainford was unlucky not to find the net again. Identical to his first-half chance, The Rams number nine weaving through several Kidsgrove defenders but again the ball trickled wide rather than over the line.

He should have added a third shortly after. Moran’s through ball found the leading man in front of goal but was unable to take his chance failing to beat the keeper. Kidsgrove’s striker Anthony Malbon gave the home side a scare in a rare attempt for The Grove, however, fired well wide of the target.

It turned out to be an early warning for Rammy who were pegged back in sixty-second minute. Kidsgrove bounced back with a 25-yard wonder goal of their own courtesy of Lee Williamson, his shot leaving Ashton no chance as the visitors set up a thrilling final half hour.

Rainford was beginning to think it wasn’t his day in front of goal, this time drawing his latest attempt wide of the post. Another was expertly saved by Harrison before coming out to Rother who saw an effort deflected over the bar.

Nic Evangelinos also attempted to restore the Rams two-goal advantage. Latching onto a Kennedy ball, the number eleven failed to keep his effort down on goal as he missed the target by some distance.

As the game fell into added time Ramsbottom were punished for their missed chances as Kidsgrove equalised in the ninety-first minute. Grove skipper Anthony Malbon stabbed home an effort from close range and ending their own season on a high.

A tough finish for Rammy nonetheless which was no doubt tough to take after the first half scoreline. Manager Chris Willcock showed his frustration in the aftermath.

‘I didn’t know what to make of that game. Outside of the goals, I thought we were well below par, to be honest with you.

I am extremely frustrated and angry with how the second half developed. Everyone from Ramsbottom should expect more from the lads on Tuesday.

I don’t like the way we are approaching things. Since we have come back, we haven’t been at our usual level.

After admitting the sending off was correct, Willcock looked ahead to the upcoming playoff semi-final against Radcliffe.

‘We can beat anybody in this league on our day. We have the quality and have caused everybody problems. The problem is our day is not here at the moment. We have achieved our main goal but I expect more. We’ve only made the top five on goal difference (ahead of Runcorn Linnets)’.

I am always pessimistic but we need to come on Tuesday with a different mindset. Let’s see what we get’.

Team vs Kidsgrove: Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran, Thompson, Kelvin Lugsden, Gooden ( Carey 60’ ) , Rother, Bembo-Leta (Donaldson 60’) , Evangelinos, Rainford

Unused subs: Jerome, Osi-Efa, Ellison

Attendance: 297

Referee: Lewis Raper

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