If Saturday’s performance had the nervous, and possibly the managers, peering apprehensively from behind the couch, this was full on ‘When Frankenstein met Dracula’.

BLYTH SPARTANS 4 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0
Croft Park
Tuesday 24 February 2015
Attendance: 364

It is perfectly reasonable to talk still of bedding in and players getting to know each other – one of the problems being consistent availability.  And, on the night, there were extenuating circumstance not least having no recognised centre-half in the absence of Cedric Krou, who is making a habit of disappearing with the unexpected suddenness of Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.  Patience with him should now be depleted and it really should be a question of Gone Boy.  Then there was the loss of one of the few inform players early into the game – this time Jamie Rother and then being reduced to 10 men at the half-time whistle when manager Jon Robinson collected the softest of his two yellow cards.

But, for all that, this was a desperately poor performance albeit against a quick, young and good team playing well – or as well as they wanted or needed to be.  Even before going down to 10 men, the Rams had been outnumbered and outmaneuvered in all areas but most of all down the wings were Robert Dale, on the left, and particularly Jarrett Rivers on the right were exceptional.

Where in previous games, 15 minutes in has proved the witching hour.  This time, it took only four to concede when Rivers shot home following Dale getting to the bye line and, in fact, could have been behind after only 30 seconds through the same route.

After that, Blyth looked like scoring in every attack – which was constant and once Mathew Wade headed home unchallenged from a corner, whatever hope there was of getting something out of the game, little as that was, was doused with the ruthlessness of a fire extinguisher on a candle.

On 57 minutes, Rivers repaid the compliment to Dale.  Picking up the ball wide, he danced inside, dummied and curtsied his way across the 18-yard line and set up Dale on the corner of the box, whose well judged swerving shot arced into the opposite top corner.  After that, Blyth tended to ease back almost bemused by the amount of time and space available until the last minute when a firm shot ricocheted off two Rams defenders into the back of the net.

These are dangerous times.  Collectively, the Rams are bereft of belief and confidence with even the basics of a half-decent first touch well astray.  It is not time to run around in Corporal Jones fashion not panicking but a few more games like this and Steve MacQueen will be on his motor bike trying to jump over the barbed wire and the band will be playing The Great Escape.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), George Bowyer, Lee Pugh, Malachi Slaven, Jon Robinson, Kyle Harrop, Osebi Abadaki, Matthew Burke, Lee Gaskell, Jamie Rother, Tom Brooks.  Substitutes: Luke Heron (for Rother 20mins), Tom Hartley (for Brooks 72mins), Phil Edghill (for Burke 82mins)

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