New era kicks off with Cup win

After 27 days without action, the Rams finally managed to get out on the pitch, in what is looking like a fortunate hole in the bad weather, to start the second half of their season.  The repercussions of the enforced lay-off, in terms of chronic fixture congestion are still to be felt but it has provided a clear and decisive break with the past, and may well be a foundation stone for the future.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 3 NORTHWICH VICTORIA 1
Doodson Sport League Cup Round 3
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 27 January 2015

With five of the rebuilt squad cup-tied, any determinative assessment of its strength and potential would be akin to paying attention to a Ray Winstone half-time on-line betting advert but there was sufficient in the performance from those who were on display against a team currently top of the Evo-Stik Division 1 North, albeit with their own absences, to offer realistic optimism for the future.

The New Year's resolution for all should be to throw away backwards looking rose tinted glasses for that is all history now and the past is a very strange country.  For all that, for the first 15 minutes of the game, there was a strange empty feeling on both pitch and terraces - almost Hamlet without the ghost.  That feeling was not helped by the visitors taking the lead after 9 minutes when Godwin Abadaki forced home at the far post after some weak defending down the Rams' right flank.  It was inevitable that the Rams would take some time to get going and for a while they were wandering around with the same prospect of finding a mate as a polar bear shipwrecked on the Antarctic but one Tom Brooks seized on Northwich's defensive indecision in dealing with a hopeful high ball down the middle to fire home from the edge of the box, things began to settle down and for the rest of the game, the home side were the better team.

They could count themselves unfortunate not to have gone into the half-time break in front.  Brooks darting diagonal runs offered promise but too often denied by the flag, then Lee Gaskell flashed a delicious near post header marginally wide and on 45 minutes Kyle Harrop crashed a 30-yard drive onto the underside of the bar after a lightning break down the right from Osebi Abadaki.

Ian Bennett was growing into a forceful and controlling presence in the middle and, on the turn round, the Rams took a firm grip on the game.  On the hour, a quick short free kick found Bennett in space on the edge of the box and his swerving shot into the top corner gave Dave Smith no chance.  No doubt, with the trip to Buxton in mind, Bennett and Brooks were withdrawn shortly after and the loss of the Rams' two most influential players on the night, together with some tiring legs, let Northwich back into the game.  For the last 20 minutes, the Rams were forced back but kept their shape, defensive composure and perhaps most crucially, their feet in the tackle.

The visitors' attempts at an equaliser were already petering out when a surprise snap shot from the corner of the box from Malachi Slaven dipped viciously in front of Smith and flew in under his body.

The longest journey starts with a single step.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton (capt), George Grayson, Lee Pugh, Kyle Harrop, Cedric Krou, Callum Jones, Osebi Abadaki, Ian Bennett, Lee Gaskell, Tom Brooks, Jordan Lazenbury.  Subs: Tom Hartley (for Bennett 66mins), Malachi Slaven (for Brooks 66min), Andrew Dawson (for Lazenbury 87mins), Jon Robinson.

GOALS: Tom Brooks (15 mins), Ian Bennett (62 mins), Malachi Slaven (90+1 mins)

Referee: Chris Isherwood (Leyland)
Attendance: 158