On a cool night in Cheshire, Ramsbottom managed to come from behind to snatch a point against an organised Widnes side.
Rammy started brightly and took a direct approach to the game. In the 2nd minute Ryan Ellison connected with Phillip Dean’s freekick, but his header was glanced just over the crossbar.
The bright start could be put down to an effective 4-5-1 formation in which Moran was placed just behind Gaskell and was winning every header. However, Gaskell was struggling to latch on to these flicks and meant chances were at a premium. Rammy would rue their lack of chance creation in these early stages when, in the 8th minute, Dale Korie-Butler put the home side into the lead; a freak mistake by the Rammy defence saw a misplaced header fall into the path of Korie-Butler who lofted the ball over Ashton and into the goal.
The visitors immediately tried to hit back. The ball went down the right wing and Jerome worked his way back the left back to hit a low cross into the 6-yard area. Unfortunately, there was no on in the box to latch onto the teasing ball.
The goal had certainly knocked the confidence of Ramsbottom and they looked particularly vulnerable down their right side. Widnes tried to exploit the space here and it proved troublesome to the visitors; in the 18th minute Widnes went close with a shot from inside the box on the left-hand side – this attempt went just wide of the right side of the goal.
Ramsbottom had their best chance of the game so far in the 31st minute. The ball was played into the left channel and chased by Gaskell. There was a mix up in communication between Widnes defender Michael Burke and goalkeeper Ryan Nield and Gaskell pounced, Burke fell but the experienced striker just couldn’t connect properly with the ball and it went just right of the goal.
In the 37th minute, Ryan Ellison was booked for a hard tackle and the resulting freekick was dealt with confidently by Sam Ashton.
Widnes walked in 1 – 0 up at half time and looked good value for their lead.
The second half took some time to get going, with neither side really managing to take control of the game. The first chance of the half fell to Widnes. The Whites won a corner in the 54th minute following a promising attack and the ball was played perfectly to the back post, but Grogan headed just over the bar. The big defender really should have doubled their lead.
A change of approach following this chance saw Rammy return to the direct approach they started the game with and began to push forward more. In the 73rd minute they were finally rewarded for this thanks to a magnificent strike from Jerome Wright. The captain picked up the ball in midfield, set himself and struck a low hard shot that the keeper couldn’t stop from nestling in the bottom right corner, despite getting a hand to the ball.
A common theme through the game was Ramsbottom’s difficulties in dealing with the Widnes long ball and this was seen again in the 81st minute when Ben Hodkinson was released down the left side of the penalty and unleashed a venomous shot that forced a tremendous save from Sam Ashton; who kept the scores level.
The final 5 minutes of the game proved some of the most entertaining, with Widnes taking a more direct approach. A well worked move in the 90th minute left the Ramsbottom fans feeling nervy as the resulting attempt flew over the bar.
Chances were at a premium for Rammy in added time, but the defensive line held strong probing passes and several shots from Widnes. The Rams saw the game out professionally and walked off the pitch with a well-earned point.
FULL TIME: Widnes FC (Korie Butler 8’) 1-1 Ramsbottom United (Wright 73’)
Ramsbottom United: Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Osi-Efa, Thompson, Ellison, Dean (Jarrett 62’), Moran, Gaskell (Higgs 62’), Jerome, Wright ©
Unused subs: Hart, Rother