Hard fought point for the Rams

Ramsbottom United continued their unbeaten start to the league season with a tough looking trip to Ewen Fields, a venue where the Rams have succumbed to 5-0 defeats on their previous two visits.

HYDE UNITED 1 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1
Ewen Fields, Hyde
Saturday 26 August 2017
Evo-Stik North Division
Attendance: 310

The starting line-up showed four changes from the FA Cup loss the previous weekend with regular goalkeeper Martin Fearon absent through injury, it was summer signing Danny Taberner making his debut between the posts.  Sam Heathcote returned at right back, whilst Tom Brooks and Max Hazeldine gained starting berths from the Liversedge match.

The game started with the home side looking threatening down the left touchline in particular with the tricky Porritt looking to create problems for the visitors in the early stages of the match.  It was Tom Brooks restored to a central midfield slot that had the first attempt on the Hyde goal on five minutes when a shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked by a Hyde defender resulting in the visitors first corner of the contest.

It was just after the ten minute mark when the Rams had their first attempt on target when a strong run from Hazeldine was curtailed by home full back Burke resulting in a free kick to the visitors.  Hopes were high that Jerome Wright could repeat his wonder goal from the Tadcaster match but on this occasion home keeper Crook tipped away Wright's in-swinging set piece for another corner as Ramsbottom United started promisingly.

Hyde made their first change of the game midway through the first period when the lively Porritt was replaced by Jones due to an injury.  Both sides were struggling to gain a foothold in a hard fought encounter which was frequently interrupted by the referee's whistle making free flowing football very difficult on Hyde's 3G surface.

Indeed as the half wore on both sides found it difficult to create any clear cut chances with both defensive units having the better of their attacking counterparts.  The only efforts of note before the break came when a Wright corner was headed wide for the Rams whilst Hyde's substitute Jones found some room on the edge of the penalty area before sending his shot wide of Taberner's goal.

As the half time whistle blew the contest was goalless but the Ramsbottom contingent were more than content with the first half showing as their side had given a good account of themselves against difficult opposition.  The Rams back line was standing firm with both Thompson and Roscoe at their combative best whilst full-backs Heathcote and Brownhill coped admirably with the Hyde wide players in protecting debutant Taberner's goal.

The second half began with both sides taking to the field with the same eleven that finished the first half, the visitors started the half brightly winning a couple of free kicks which ultimately came without reward.

Hyde then had their first real effort of note of 56 minutes when a free kick from home skipper Miller was fired towards goal before Taberner plunged to his right to push the ball to safety in the keeper's first real action of the match.

As the hour mark approached, the Rams created the best chance of the game when a through ball found Jerome Wright's perfectly timed run sending the Rams midfielder through one on one with home keeper Crook, unfortunately Wright shot straight at Crook and the visitors had missed a glorious chance to break the deadlock.

Captain Dean Stott and fellow midfielders Moran and Brooks were putting in a huge amount of effort for the team as the side battled to improve on the Rams poor recent record against Hyde, an outfit expecting to be in the top 7 positions come the end of April.

Both sides made substitutions as the game entered the last quarter with Tolani Omotola replacing Hazeldine for the Rams as Mark Fell sought to influence proceedings from the bench.

Chances came and went for the Rams as Heathcote headed wide from another Wright free kick before a goal mouth scramble resulted in Roscoe firing wide of the Hyde goal.  Eddie Moran also then found himself in an excellent position when another superbly timed run matched with an equally impressive through ball again had the Rams threatening the Hyde goal but the ball somehow deceived Moran and the chance was lost.

The hard working Greg Daniels was again impressive throughout without getting a clear sight of goal that his work rate and technical ability deserved.

With the match entering the last ten minutes the visitors created another couple of half chances to take the lead, one of which was scrambled off the line by a Hyde defender whilst the home side looked more and more desperate again without seriously threatening the Rams goal.

As the game looked to be heading towards a goalless draw the home side won a throw deep in the Ramsbottom half, the throw landed at the feet of Karl Jones who controlled before turning and smashing the ball into the top right hand corner past Taberner to give Hyde the lead on 85 minutes.  Amazingly, this was the second game in a week where an opposition substitute had netted in the last ten minutes against the Rams after Flannery of Liversedge had scored two late in the previous game on 89 and 92 minutes.

The Rams bench responded immediately with Richardson replacing Moran as the visitors looked for the equaliser.  Then, as four of the five minutes of added time signalled had been played, a long throw from Richardson bounced around the edge of the Hyde penalty area before Ramsbottom substitute Tolani Omotola sent in an unstoppable right foot shot that sped past Crook and into the back of the net to give the Rams striker his first goal for the club.  The strike sparked wild celebrations from players and supporters alike as another sub added their name to the scoresheet to restore parity.

The final whistle blew on a hard fought match and the Rams came away with a well deserved point from a venue where, in previous meetings, things haven't gone well for the side but this match was different.  This performance and result shows the team spirit, effort and willingness to fight for each other and the Ramsbottom United and was fully merited point to continue the Rams unbeaten start of the league campaign.

Ramsbottom manager Mark Fell summed up the day's events as follows:-
"Two draws away from home against two top sides is testament to the lads hard work, this was a harder earned point than Colwyn Bay I felt, there's a lot of variables at Hyde including the pitch. First half they shaded it and we were a little wasteful with the ball, but 2nd period I thought we were superb.  We created four excellent chances and limited them to the odd long range effort.  So when we conceded, it felt like a real sucker punch, but credit again to our lads, their character and spirit is immense and we got the very least we deserved with a last gasp goal from Tolani.  The key is to back this up with a winning display against Radcliffe on Monday."

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Taberner, Heathcote, Brownhill, Stott, Thompson, Roscoe, Brooks, Moran (Richardson 86mins), Hazeldine (Omotola 68mins), Daniels, Wright.  Subs not used: Rother, Pierce, Meaney.