A youthful Rams side travelled to mid-table Halesowen Town and came away with an encouraging performance despite going down 2-1.

The Grove, Halesowen
Saturday 21st November 2015
Attendance: 323

There was only cold comfort to be had for the battling Rams who came away empty handed from a hospitable but freezing Grove believing with some justification that their performance was well worth a draw if not all three points.  They will reflect though that for all their progressive play which saw them control large segments of the match, crucial lapses in concentration and inability to sustain performance over the full 90 minutes again cost them dearly.

Either out of necessity or design, it was not clear which, the Rams adopted a different shape from previous matches with Shelton Payne playing alone up front with five playing narrowly through the middle.  For 75 minutes or sothey were able to get enough quality ball into his feet to make it work.  Showing his usual excellent first touch and no little mobility he was a constant threat on the Halesowen goal and on a more fortunate day could easily have come away with at least 3 goals.

The Rams were more enterprising from the off and in the early moments Payne collected and spun in the area to send a low shot which Daniel Platt in the home goal struggled to push wideand then did even better to palm away a shot that was curling in to the top corner.  It was though far from one-way football.  For Halesowen, Reece Hales was able to find space in the middle to prompt attacks mainly down the right and as always a lack of inches at the back meant that aerial balls into the Rams box presented heart stopping moments.

Where the Rams tried to play their usual style of neat passingon a slightly bumpy pitch, Halesowen were all the no nonsense prosaic pragmatism that is so effective at this level.  This, allied with some careless passing from the Rams, invited them on to the front foot as the game progressed but their opening goal when it came just short of the hour germinated from a slice of good fortune.  Prince Hayward was adjudged to have hand-balled in a central position 25 yards out but it appeared more ball to hand at short distance than a deliberate attempt to handle.  If Halesowen were fortunate to get the free kick there was nothing fortunate in the way Reece Hales curled the ball round the wall and into the net off the inside of the post.

The Rams response was immediate.  Slight of foot from Payne in the box induced a rash challenge and there was no objection from the home team to the award of a penalty.  Payne’s two step shuffle to the ball sent the spot kick into the corner with the keeper going the other way.  Moments later the Rams nearly went in front – Payne’s low shot taking a deflection which passedjust wide of the post with the keeper wrong footed.

That though was the high water mark for the Rams.  The back four began to creak under the muscular challenge of the Keyon Reffell and Aaron Daniels up front and twice shots from promising positions on the rightflashed across the face of the Rams goal and somehow evaded the bottom corner.  For all that the Rams seemed to have weathered the storm but with 8minutes left a corner found Reffel unmarked at the far post with Grant Shenton rooted to his line.  His header was well directed and the Rams had another long journey home distraught and denied and disconsolate.

But all is not gloom. The results at the bottom of the table went in their favour and they are still well in touch with safety with fellow strugglers Colwyn Bay next up in the league on Saturday.  There are further signings in the pipeline and it is to be hoped that while the youngsters have done the team proud in recent weeks there is a fair seasoning of theexperience and stature in the newcomers that is so clearly lacking at present.

Halesowen Town: Daniel Platt, Luke Connolly, Aaron Griffiths, Jay Denny (capt), Kyle Morrison, Christopher Westwood (Jean-Michel Gueyes 77mins), Asa Charlton, Daniel Bragoli, Keyon Reffell, Aaron Daniels (Nathanial Waite 69mins), Reece Hales.  Subs not used: Isaac Cooper, Keenah Rosser, Daniel Summerfield.

Goals: Reece Hales (58mins), Keyon Reffell (82mins).
Cards: Yellow – Christopher Morrison (59mins)

Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (capt), Robbie Bromley, Sam Grimshaw, Marcus Poscha, George Edmundson, Prince Hayward, David Kuba-Kuba (Aaron Smith 77mins), Matthew Crothers, Shelton Payne, Alex Meaney, John Pritchard.  Subs not used: Jack Tuohy, Jake Cliffe, Liam Gibson, Charlie Doyle.

Goals: Shelton Payne (60mins – Pen).
Cards: Yellow – Marcus Poscha (57mins).

Referee: Matthew Smith.


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