The realistic assessment of this game, harsh but fair, is that the result flattered an insipid Rams performance,  A touch more precision from the home team would have seen them at least double their goal tally and the Rams goal, special as it was, literally came from nowhere.  All that was needed to turn a poor show into a horror show would have been the appearance from the subs bench of Vincent Price and Peter Cushing!

WITTON ALBION 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1
Wincham Park
Saturday 22 February 2015
Attendance: 349

Apart from Matt Burke, who struggled manually in midfield often up against three opponents, and Jamie Rother, the contributions from those in front of the back four ranged from ineffectual through peripheral to anonymous although they were certainly hampered by the loss of Donal McDermott after only 12 minutes.  As a result, there was little if any sustained possession or control of the ball and the back four found themselves consistently stretched and under pressure.

Such is the developing habit of the Rams conceding the first goal on or around the quarter-hour, they will want to start adopting a back to the future approach and jump straight from the tenth minute to the twentieth.  On this occasion, both Rams central defenders were drawn like moths to the flame to Lucas Molina’s near post run to meet a low cross from the right.  The Venezuelan dummied extravagantly and Jamie Rainford had all the time and space he needed to shoot home from the six-yard line.  The fact that the centre forward had been offside earlier in the build up was neither mitigation or defence to an accusation of poor communication between Alex Frost and Callum Jones.

The Rams battled away but long high balls forward are unlikely to be productive with a forward pairing of Lee Gaskell and Jamie Rother who in terms of height and stature are on the slighter side of imposing and when the ball got to feet, the passing was often sloppy.  The Rams were fortunate not to go two down on the half hour when Rainford took advantage of lightweight tackling on the edge of the box and sending a lob onto the top of the bar with Grant Shenton beaten.  And then, almost on the half-time whistle, Rother latched onto a bouncing ball barely 10 yards inside the Witton half and sent a dipping shot past a startled Ryan Swift and in just under the bar.

Unfortunately the equaliser, skilful and fortuitous in equal measure, did not presage a Rams revival.  On the restart only a double point blank save by Grant Shenton followed by a goal line clearance and the linesman’s flag when the rebound was fired in prevented Witton regaining the lead.  Then Molina shot wide from a promising position.

The reprieve lasted only 15 minutes.  Rainford was cleverly sent loose inside the box by a clever pass from Joe Shaw and passed the ball into the far corner.  From then on, Witton passed the ball in and around Burke, who perhaps more out of frustration than necessity clattered into Shaw and was sent off with 15 minutes left.

The Rams continued to lump the ball forward more in hope than expectation although Kyle Harrop might consider himself unlucky to see his shot diverted over having been set up on the edge of the area by Jamie Rother with five minutes left.

That is now 7 league games without a win and only two points gained for the Rams.  The darkest hours are just before the dawn but things are more than a bit stygian just now and with a long and difficult midweek trip to Blyth Spartans next up and then a tricky home game against Ilkeston it might be a little few games yet before the sun begins to peep over the horizon.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), George Bowyer, Lee Pugh, Kyle Harrop, Alex Frost, Callum Jones, Osebi Abadaki, Matthew Burke, Lee Gaskell, Jamie Rother, Donal McDermott.  Subs: Phil Edghill (for Jones 74mins), Tom Brooks, Cedric Krou (for Frost 44mins), Jordan Lazenbury (for McDermott 12mins), George Grayson.
Goals: Jamie Rother (44)

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