Opening day defeat for the Rams

Life at Evo-Stik Premier level could hardly have started better. Two goals in the opening nine minutes of the season had the Rams supporters in dreamland as visitors Kings Lynn Town looked shell-shocked.

Alas, that was as good as it got, as the home side failed to press home the advantage, even missing a penalty, which allowed the Norfolk side to claw their way back into the game, and ultimately claim all three points thanks to a late winner.

Just six minutes had passed when Lee Gaskell cleverly won possession on the left hand side. He played the ball back to Lee Pugh who fired in  the perfect cross for Jon Robinson to latch on to and he hammered the ball home to open the scoring.

Within a minute, Gaskell was close to extending the lead when his header from an acute angle sailed inches wide.

But just two minutes later, that lead was doubled. A goal-mouth scramble saw the ball land at the feet of Jordan Hulme, and despite some desperate defending, he managed to scoop the ball home off the underside of the bar.

Grant Spencer then tried his luck from 25 yards only to see the ball miss the target by a couple of feet, as the newly-promoted side were enjoying life at their new level.

Hulme almost grabbed a third for the rampant Rams, but Alexander Street, in the visitors goal, managed to tip his speculative lob over at the last moment.

Kings Lynn reduced the arrears on 26 minutes, when some poor marking from a corner allowed Ryan Fryatt the space to direct his header home past a couple of defenders.

The home side continued to take the game to their opponents as the half wore on. Steve Howson should have done better when the ball landed perfectly for him ten yards out, but he somehow managed to send it sailing high over the bar. Phil Dean then created a chance for Hulme. With the keeper seemingly happy to let the ball go out for a goal-kick, Dean nipped in and laid the ball back to Hulme who seemed taken by surprise and the chance went begging.

So the half-time whistle sounded on a fine opening half for the Rams who thoroughly deserved the interval lead.

It could and should have been even better just two minutes after the restart.

Spencer skipped into the area only to be brought down by Lynn’s Jordan Yong, leaving the referee with no option other than to point to the spot. Last season’s leading scorer Lee Gaskell had the ideal opportunity to extend the lead, but his penalty sailed high over the bar, offering a reprieve that the visitors took with both hands.

Despite opportunities still falling to the home side in the shape of Spencer, Hulme and Pugh, Kings Lynn were beginning to look more comfortable on the ball.

Whereas the first half belonged to Ramsbottom, the second period was a much more even affair.

The equaliser finally arrived on 65 minutes, and once again, the Rams were undone by another set piece. A corner from the right was headed back across goal, and there was Fryatt again to direct the second header inside the far post.

Spencer fired inches wide with a free-kick before home keeper Grant Shenton was forced into a superb save from substitute Jake Jones as both sides looked for a winner.

It fell to the visitors with just three minutes remaining.

Again it was a set-piece sucker punch. Scott Burton gave away a free-kick 25 yards out, and a routine from the training ground saw two players step over the ball leaving George Thomson to blast it past the wall and Shenton, much to the delight of the travelling contingent.

So a fast-paced and entertaining game left the Rams ultimately pointless. Three goals from three set pieces will have taught the management team that at this level, any slackness is likely to be punished. But overall, if this is the standard to be expected, then the Lancashire side should be more than capable of holding their own.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Smalley, Pugh, Spencer, Howson, Priestley, Hulme, Burton, Gaskell, Robinson(Ahmadi 70mins), Dean(Abadaki 77mins) Subs not used: Pilkington, Slaven, Cook