Play-off hopes raise with Kendal win

The end-of-the-season chase for the four play-off places continues to be a fascinating race between six clubs, and Ramsbottom United did their chances no harm with a comfortable victory over mid-table Kendal Town.

Having notched a goal in the opening minute, the home side had the points effectively won by half-time as they ran in two more goals, to return to winning ways after a couple of drawn games.

The game was barely sixty seconds old when Lee Gaskell beat the offside trap by racing down the right before sending over a low cross for Phil Dean to convert with venom at the far post.

This was just the tonic the Rams needed, having dropped four points during the previous seven days, and the home side controlled the opening half, with the visitors relying on the odd breakaway which rarely troubled the home defence.

The Rams should have doubled the lead on 19 minutes.  Jordan Hulme did well to create space in the box, before laying the ball on to Gaskell. The leading scorer rounded his marker, but somehow managed to flick the ball wide when a certain second goal looked on the cards.

On 32 minutes, the second goal did arrive.

A cross from Dean on the left found Gaskell, but his shot was initially blocked before bouncing kindly into the path of Gary Stopforth, who blasted the loose ball home from twelve yards.

Moments later Gaskell raced onto a misplaced back-pass, but Danny McDonald in the Kendal goal sprinted off his line to dive at the forward’s feet to snuff out the danger.

On 40 minutes, the Rams extended their lead. 

Good work from Dominic Smalley saw him thread the ball through to Stopforth on the right, and he took the ball forward before sending over a cross for Dean to nod in at the far post.

The Rams went in for the break three goals to the good, and it was no more than they deserved, and possibly less than they could have had.

Kendal, on the other hand, had offered very little, and the game was effectively over as a contest.

The second half was something of a disappointment.

Content with their day’s work, the home side backed off a little, and although the Cumbrians had more of the game, they rarely looked like troubling the home back-line.

What little they had to offer was easily dealt with by Martin Fearon in the home goal, although the Rams themselves rarely looked like adding to their lead.

Hulme created a couple of chances, as did substitute Grant Spencer, but clear-cut chances were few and far between as both sides played out a subdued second period.

A place in the play-offs is now in the Rams own hands.  Four tough games to come, but with the focus very much on making the final cut, expectations are high at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium that the target can be achieved.

It all makes for an interesting last three weeks of what has been another exceptional season in east Lancashire.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Fearon, Pilkington, Roberts, Stopforth, Warrender(Howson 56mins), Priestley, Smalley(Spencer 71mins), Burton(Krou 78mins), Gaskell, Hulme, Dean. Subs not used: Toth, Pugh