Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian melodrama about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is much more than a story of scientific experimenting going wrong – it begs the question of whether it is the good suppressingthe bad or the bad escaping the virtues of the good.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 1 November 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 186

Much the same question will be on the lips of all those at the HWRS last night. The management team will, with some justification, pointto the fact that the two goals  which gave Tadcaster a point came in the 85th minute and more gallingly the last of the five minutes of added on time whose award on any view was at the furthest margins of generosity and that for the first hour or so the Rams had played football of such sweeping beauty and precision that the only question that could be asked was why this team is not points clear at the top of the league.

The more telling question though coming back to the opening question is what is the real Rams at the moment. Thedispassionate purely objective observer will reflect on aworrying disintegration in energy levels, organisation and control in those final 30 minutes in the face of a Tadcaster response that featured nothing much more than an increase in pace and direction.And which had had a chilling and worrying inevitability at to its denouement. It is harsh but fair to suggest that it is just as well that there was not a sixth minute of added time. Will the real Rams please stand up.

That though is to take nothing away from the quality of the performance in the first half which left all of those watching asking the question as to where the flaws were in the team – could it possibly be improved? The Rams had been imperious threatened only by moments of self inflicted danger from temporary drops in concentration. Grant Spencer was superb setting up two of the first half goals and scoring the third which sent the Rams in at half time 3-1 ahead on goals and much further ahead in terms of the domination the had enjoyed. Together with Alex Meaney sharp in the tackle and quick in distribution, and with Matt Atherton running riot down the left in partnership with Josh Askew, Spencer ran the game.

It was his pinpoint cross after just 70 seconds that picked out Ryan Salmon who had drifted away from his marker. The big striker saw his header saved well low down by Garry Stevens but was alert enough to get first to the rebound to put the Rams in front.

Ten minutes later one of those lapses in concentration saw Tadcaster level. Too many Rams players were ball watching allowing Conor Sellars to spin away on the edge of the box and send a shot into the top corner. That setback served only to light the blue touch paper. The rest of the half saw the Rams rampaging forward with abandon. Neat interplay between Atherton and Askew released Salmon down the left. Under pressure he held the ball up fed Spencer whose swerving, dipping shot across Stevens from 25 yards flew into the top corner. Then in a repeat of the opening goal Spencer again found Salmon and his downward header this time gave Stevensno chance.

It is a shame there had to to be a half time whistle.

If Mr Hyde had been an Olympicathlete, WADA would surely have been calledin andthere is some scope for wondering whether HW’s half time tea had been spiked!! Energyturned to lethargy, control to aimless chasing of ball and man. The disruption to the midfield forced by a mixture of injury, prudence and tactical changes did not help but the fact is in the next 45 minutes the Rams were unable to muster a sustained attack or effort on goal. The mounting threat of a Tadcaster revival reached its peak with 5 minutes left. Charlie Albinson saved low at each post twice in a minute each time at the expense of a corner. When the third was allowed to skim onto front post and spin back into play Josh Barrett was at hand to fire in.

There are many bugbears in football. One is the short corner routine that doesnot work and the other is the fallacy of trying to run down the clock by running the ball to the corner flag – it never works as it failed to work last night. With the clock more running back than running down, possession was coughed up giving Tadcaster a last chance to launch the ball forward. Paul Linwood seemed to be fouled trying to clear but the ref waved play on and the ball fell to Tom Corner who swept home through a ruck of players to no little consternation and expletive. A harsh lesson learned and two points lost.

In the end Dr Jekyll can no longer control Mr Hyde and running out of the potion that effects the transformation back to goodness kills himself – it is to be hoped that there is sufficient self belief in the squad to know that the second half last night was the aberrationbecause sustained performances over 90 minutes and match to match of the type displayed in the first half will see the Rams climb the league.

Ramsbottom United: Charlie Albinson, Bradley Roscoe, Josh Askew, Alex Meaney, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Damian Green, Grant Spencer, Ryan Salmon, Gareth Seddon (capt), Matthew Atherton.  Subs: Jake Cliffe, Oliver Crankshaw (for Atherton 74mins), Nathanial Taylor (for Seddon 76mins), Dean Stott (for Meaney 80mins), Lee Botham.

Tadcaster Albion: Garry Stevens, Jason Mycoe, Josh Grant, Andy Milne, Josh Barrett, Daniel Thirkell, Adam Baker, Jonathon Greening, Tom Corner, Josh Greening, Conor Sellars.  Subs: Fatlum Ibrahimi (for Thirkell 81mins), Charlie Binns (for Sellars 67mins), Steve Jeff, Liam Shepherd, Rob Youhill.

Subs: Chris Porter (Leyland)

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