by | Apr 6, 2024

Skipper Oscar Radcliffe celebrates this hard-fought win at Cheadle Town.

NWC Premier Division • 6 April 2024

It was an afternoon to enjoy for once as the Rams made the short journey to in-form Cheadle Town.

Leckenby's Tea Rooms

The hosts were on a nine-match unbeaten run, including some impressive victories, whilst the Rams arrived in woeful form with their nine-match winless run earning a meagre two points from twenty-seven. So, a bookies home cert then?

Leckenby's Tea Rooms

Not so, for anyone watching would have pointed to the men in blue as the form outfit, for this was as thoroughly deserved as it was unexpected, with the only disappointment being that it wasn’t by a wider margin.

The visitors took the game to their hosts and created a number of chances, whilst the normally leaky defence was imperious, dealing with anything thrown at it, leaving keeper Chris Thompson with very little to do all afternoon. Had the team defended as well as this over the seventeen games since they last enjoyed a clean sheet, maybe the tumble down the league table would not have been so dramatic.

Ramsbottom United had the first chance of the game when the ever-dangerous Oumar Camara, raced through but sent his effort over the bar.

Cheadle almost opened the scoring on ten minutes when a free-kick from thirty yards rattled the crossbar, but that was as close as they came, with a couple of late crosses into the box, superbly dealt with by a defence happy to throw their bodies at any potential threat.

Camara saw another shot go wide before some trickery from the centre-forward led to a scramble in the Town area, which ended with Harvey Whyte firing over.

Oscar Radcliffe, another outstanding player on a day the whole team played well, sent over a cross for Matty Birchall whose close-range attempt was smothered by Jordan Latham in the home goal.

Moments later, on thirty-three minutes, another Radcliffe cross again found Birchall, but this time he was able to head home at the far post to give the Rams a deserved lead.

The same duo again connected minutes later but this time Birchall could not find the net.

A rare attack by the home side should have produced the equaliser when former Ram Wealth Dasilva got in behind his marker, but as Thompson came out of his goal, the Cheadle striker placed the ball wide of the net.

Almost immediately Birchall, who ran the Cheadle defence ragged all afternoon, was again denied, this time by the keeper’ legs, as the Rams looked determined to go in at the break with a bigger lead.

That lead looked to have been increased five minutes after the restart, but Dylan McMahon saw his close-range strike ruled out for offside, then Harvey Hayhurst watched on as his fierce free-kick drifted inches wide of the target, as the Rams ratched up the pressure.

Trickery from Hayhurst down the left-hand side led to another scramble which ended with Radcliffe firing over.

The visitors continued to torment the home defence creating a number of chances. Another dangerous cross from Camara was cleared, Theo Butterworth was inches wide with a header, and McMahon saw another effort sail inches wide.

Some smart play between Whyte and Camara saw the latter float in a tempting cross but it rose inches above the head of the diving Birchall.

The game ended with a thoroughly deserved three points for a Ramsbottom side almost unrecognisable from some recent performances, and one which had the faithful followers wondering why they had not seen similar for most of a disappointing season.

Manager Steve Wilkes was understandably a happy man at the final whistle.

“Finally, we have something to smile about after a game of football.

“I’m so pleased for the players and everyone connected with the club, especially the supporters who have stuck by us during the last two months.

“The only disappointment was the scoreline 1-0. We must have created half a dozen good chances and should have gone in at half-time at least three goals in front. But I’d have taken the 1-0 before kick-off and we move into the next game with a little bit more confidence and belief in the squad.”

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Thompson, Radcliffe, Hayhurst, Allen, Lent, Butterworth, Walker, Birchall (Tavakoli 85mins), Camara (Ogunby 94mins), Whyte, Lucas (D.McMahon 45mins) Subs not used: Lawless, Walder

Att: 150