A moment of needless, mindless ill discipline in the last 10 minutes cost the Rams what would have been a hard earned and fully justified point and quite possibly the chance of grabbing all three.
BARWELL 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Kirby Road Stadium
Saturday 30 January 2016
Nia Bayunu has been a stalwart in recent matches and had been at the heart of a well organised defence which has kept the high flying Barwell comfortably at bay but there can no excuse for the unprovoked retaliation which set off a melee after Luke Barlone was sent off for an ugly two-footed studs-up lunge on Joel Melia. The loss of Bayunu was always going to be more potentially catastrophic to the visitors and so it proved with just a couple of minutes left when there was a scramble in the hole left by the departed Bayunu, the ball somehow evaded Grant Shenton and Jamie Towers bundled the ball in for the hosts.
Quite frankly all of those desperately working to put the club back on its feet following the floods and the hardcore of travelling fans deserve better than that and the defeat leaves a bitter taste that is not sweetened by the excellence of the performance up to that point.
Playing two up front for the first time in several matches and a narrower midfield quartet had paid dividends for the Rams. They had by far the better of the first 45 minutes and could have scored at least three with a better bounce of the ball and a little more composure.
On 7 minutes the ball fell kindly to Danny Wilkins who rounded the keeper but could only find the side netting and on the half-hour, in quick succession, both Wilkins and Michael Oates had goal bound shots blocked by desperate defending. Barwell were making little progress against a resolute back four in which Bayunu was a forceful fulcrum, Phil Edghill playing with assurance, Robbie Bromley solid and Luke Heron untroubled. So it was both a shock when the home team took the lead with almost thei last kick of the first half – a speculative cross from the right, bouncing fortuitously into the path of Owen Story who volleyed past Shenton.
The second half continued pretty much as the first. Michael Oates could not get enough force behind a volley when placed and Barwell keeper Liam Castle was able to push the ball wide and at the other end Shenton did well to deflect a firm shot away from goal.
With play becoming increasingly stretched, the turning point which led the Rams back into the game with the introduction of their latest diminutive winger Joel Melia with 30 minutes left. From his first moments on the pitch, he showed neat ability to find space and to move directly with the ball at his feet. After a quiet period the Rams got back on the front foot and with 18 minutes left Melia skipped inside from the left and from the edge of the area fired a low shot into the bottom corner of sufficient pace and unerring accuracy to leave Castle no chance.
Almost immediately Kayde Coppin nearly repeated the trick, this time from the left but his meandering dribble from the touchline almost to the far corner of the box this time resulted in a shot which again had Castle beaten and then Edghill lacked only a bit more covering on his napless dome to put a bit more friction on a looping header to put it just under rather than marginally over the bar with Castle again leaping more in hope than expectation.
But then came the unforgivable to present the Rams with a long and pointless trip home.
Barwell: Liam Castle, Isaac Cooper, Eddie Nisevic (capt), Declan Towers, Joe Ballinger, Brady Hickey, Alex Tomkinson (Richard Lavery 74), Nigel Julian, Jame Towers (Ant Carney 68), Owen Story (Aaron Daniels 68), Luke Barlone. Subs not used: Scott Lower, Liam Kay.
Goals: Owen Story (45), Declan Towers (89)
Yellow cards: Joe Ballinger (37), Declan Towers (40), Alex Tomkinson (62), Ant Carney (96)
Red cards: Luke Barlone (83)
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Grant Shenton (capt), Robbie Bromley, Luke Heron, Phil Edghill, Nia Bayunu, Jake Cliffe, Alex Meaney, David Kuba-Kuba (Joel Melia 57), Michael Oates, Danny Wilkins (Prince Hayward 90), Kayde Coppin. Subs not used: John Pritchard, Cameron Dudley, Dennon Ashcroft.
Goals: Joel Melia (72)
Red card: Nia Bayunu (83)
Referee: Mr M Griffiths