by | Dec 23, 2023

Theo Farquharson goes close from a corner but Rams can’t turn their pressure into goals.

NWC Premier Division • 23 Dec 2023

The one problem that continues to recur this season is a lack of consistency. The failure to put a run of wins together. Yet again that deficiency came back to haunt the team, for after a superb performance at Irlam in midweek, the arrival of struggling Squires Gate gave the Rams an ideal opportunity to begin a string of positive results.

Come 5 o’clock, that optimism had vanished as the visitors returned to the Fylde coast with all three points, albeit unmerited.

The Rams had sufficient opportunities to win three matches, let alone this one, but a combination of off-target finishing, desperate defending, and excellent goalkeeping resulted in just one conversion from a myriad of chances.

The home side set off looking to continue the performance at Irlam, with Kuda Chingwaro firing just wide after seven minutes followed two minutes later with a George Lewis long-range effort just off target.

Twice within as many minutes Harvey Whyte volleyed over the bar, before the same player laid the ball on to Matt Dudley but he was denied at close range.

Then the wheels came off with two goals in two minutes just before the break, as the visitors took an unexpected strangle-hold on the game.

Left winger James Hughes found space on the right-hand side and he pushed the ball goalwards where it was slid home by Saad Mekkaoui-Abouzaid to give the Gate a one-goal lead.

Barely had the Rams had time to recover than a poor clearance from keeper Ryan Hamer was hammered back, only for the keeper to parry it into the path of the on-rushing Hughes who slotted the ball home to double the advantage, much to the bewilderment of all with a Ramsbottom persuasion.

Whilst the first half had not been entirely in the hands of the Rams, the second half certainly was.

Theo Farquharson twice watched his close-range effort miss the target, Chingwaro was twice denied on one-on-ones, whilst another header from the winger was palmed out straight to Dylan Fitzgerald whose fierce return was somehow blocked by the Gate defence.

Defender Oscar Radcliffe joined the barrage seeing his efforts repelled, whilst on a couple of occasions, testing low crosses into the box failed to find a Ramsbottom boot on the end of them.

On 81 minutes, the ball broke to Matt Dudley in the box, and he unselfishly laid it on to the onrushing substitute Sam Rigby who, with his first touch, finally broke the visitors rearguard to give the home side hope of a late revival.

Despite continuing to test the visiting defence, it was to no avail, although Rigby again went close as his dive to head home another dangerous cross failed by inches.

The final whistle blew on a desperately frustrating afternoon for a Rams side whose pressure and application certainly deserved the three points, but their failure to convert the chances saw the opportunity wasted.

Manager Steve Wilkes was also frustrated at the end of the game, “Really disappointed with the result and ultimately the performance even though we had double figures regarding shots on target.

“You can’t expect to win football matches if you’re missing five one-on-ones situations.

“The goals we conceded were poor ones. Fair play to Gate, they came with a plan and stuck to it.

“People will think I’m repeating myself but we have to put numerous back to back wins together. It feels like we’re taking two steps forward, then one step back. There will be changes on Tuesday at Padiham.”

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Hamer, Collinge, Hayhurst, Lewis, Radcliffe, Farquharson, Bartram, Sephton (Rigby 80mins), Dudley, Whyte (Fitzgerald 63mins), Chingwaro (Campbell 73mins) Subs not used: Roscoe, Ogunby

Att: 171