In front of the BBC television cameras, Ramsbottom United finally gained their first league point of the season at the fifth time of asking.
With the BBC featuring “Non-League Day”, and the Rams being singled out for reporting purposes, both sides put on an entertaining first half, but the second 45 minutes petered out to leave the two sides just about deserving of a point each.
It was the visitors who started the brighter. With Andy Dawson scooping the ball off the line after Alex Taylor had rounded home keeper Grant Shenton, and visiting full-back Chris Smalley seeing his header hit the bar, it was no surprise when the home side went a goal down early on.
Just twelve minutes had elapsed when the ball broke for Keiran Lugsden, and his shot from ten yards out saw the home defence scrambling to hack it away, but the referee’s assistant indicated that the ball had already crossed the line to give the Vics the lead.
Two minutes later, the home side were almost level when Dawson saw his header rebound off the Vics’ bar.
Danny Wisdom should have done better at the other end, but Shenton saved easily before the home side finally exerted some pressure.
On 18 minutes, Grant Spencer hammered in a terrific drive from all of 30 yards, which beat Tim Deasy in the Northwich goal. Unfortunately for the Rams, the ball hammered against the bar, and Lee Gaskell was unable to turn the rebound in whilst under pressure.
Dominic Smalley then saw his goal-bound shot blocked for a corner, before the home side’s superiority finally paid off.
A free-kick was awarded in a central position 25 yards out, and Owen Roberts perfectly glided the low drive through the wall and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Jordan Hulme saw his close range effort blocked and as it sailed skywards, Dawson again got his head to the ball only to see the bar incredibly deny the home side for the third time.
A perfectly flighted through ball saw Gaskell beat the defenders, but he swept too far to the left and was unable to find the target.
The Rams did take the lead on 37 minutes.
Gaskell raced down the right wing before sending over a low cross which Hulme helped on to Phil Dean, and the wingman swept it home at the far post.
With the exception of a Lugsden angled drive which sailed past the far post, the home side had enjoyed the better of the first half, and almost nudged further ahead in time added on.
A perfect low cross behind the defence saw both Gaskell and Dean slide in but neither could find the all-important touch from close range.
The second half, by comparison, was disappointing.
Once Alex Taylor levelled the scores on 52 minutes with a free-kick that he lofted over the wall and into the top left-hand corner, the game began to deteriorate.
Both sides appeared to cancel each other out, and with most of the play taking place between the penalty areas, chances were at a premium.
The best efforts of the second period fell to Hulme for the home side when he raced into the area from the right, but fired over, whilst at the other end, the home goal had a narrow escape when a perfect low cross was agonisingly close to both Lugsden and Alex Rees, but neither could provide the final touch.
Strong shouts for a penalty when Lee Gaskell’s shot appeared to be blocked by a raised hand, fell on deaf ears. The referee had already felt the wrath of the home crowd on a number of occasions, not least when Dominic Smalley was twice felled in the first half only to see the culprits escape with a lenient yellow card, and this refusal to point to the spot did little to change the Rams supporters’ feelings towards him.
In truth, despite looking the better side for much of the first half, the Rams could have little to complain about, result-wise, but at least it puts the first point on the board.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Roberts(Toth 85mins), Pilkington, Dawson, Robinson, Smalley, Spencer, gaskell, Hulme, Dean. Subs not used: Prickett, Bradbury, Edghill, Morley