by | Jan 5, 2024

The opening Saturday of the new year – sometimes the first game of the calendar year, sometimes not. But, only one victory to be found on this particular Saturday in our non-league history as we look at Saturday 6th January.

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League North Division
(match report by Jon Haslam)

Two out of form sides battled it out on a sunny but cold afternoon at the HWRS as Ramsbottom United hosted a struggling Skelmersdale side in the hosts’ first home fixture in five weeks.

The Rams showed two changes from the New Years Day defeat at Radcliffe with Liam Brownhill returning and Alex Meaney in the starting XI after his goal in the previous match in place of Yves Zama and Dean Stott.

It was the Rams that began the contest positively as they looked to continue their impressive home form with Greg Daniels and Jerome Wright linking up effectively in the early part of the game.

Both sides exchanged long distance shots in the opening ten minutes as Meaney fired over for the home outfit before Molyneux and Mahoney responded for Skelmersdale.

As the first half wore on Ramsbottom United began to gain the upper hand and perhaps the best opportunity arrived for the home side midway through the first period when a corner found its way to Lee Gaskell who superbly executed an overhead kick which beat the visitors keeper only to hit the crossbar before being cleared to safety.

The momentum was with the home team as minutes later a surging run and pass from Sam Heathcote gave Gaskell a chance to open the scoring but the strikers first time shot from inside the box narrowly missed the target.

With the match still goalless, the Rams continued to press forward looking for the reward that their pressure deserved as Jerome Wright and Phil Dean continued to threaten down the flanks as the hosts got behind the visitors rearguard on numerous occasions without tangible success.

As the half time whistle approached Skelmersdale were on the back foot as the Rams domination turned into a reward when a superb ball from Daniels fed Wright whose cross was finished with aplomb by Lee Gaskell to register his first game since returning to the Riverside just prior to Christmas.

The interval arrived with Ramsbottom United deservedly a goal to the good and hopes were high that the late advantage would be a catalyst for a similar performance in the second period.

The opening minutes of the second half began quietly with little goalmouth action to report but Skelmersdale looked to press forward searching for an equaliser as the home side struggled to regain their attacking fluency they had shown during the first half.

As the hour mark was reached Wright looked to extend the home sides lead when his vicious shot ruffled the side netting, moments later Eddie Moran replaced the hard working Jamie Rother in the Rams midfield.

Skelmersdale then replied with a couple of substitutions of their own as they sought parity but despite their improved performance the visitors hadn’t troubled Rams stopper Charlie Albinson.

With the clock showing 15 minutes remaining the home side substituted goalscorer Gaskell with Zama but shortly afterwards Rams goalkeeper Albinson sustained a hand injury and was unable to continue, with no sub goalkeeper on the bench it was midfielder Dean Stott that had to don the gloves for the remainder of the game.

As the home side looked to see the game out their slender lead was almost cancelled out when a mix up in the home box nearly gave the visitors an equaliser before Stott pounced on the loose ball.

The remaining 15 minutes passed without either side looking like adding to the scoreline as the home team protected stand in keeper Stott admirably although Ramsbottom United almost grabbed a second but Wright’s shot from an angle sailed wide of the far post.

With the 90 minutes played and the Rams looking to secure a much needed victory the referee indicated six minutes of injury time, with four of the six minutes played the away side won a corner which the home side couldn’t clear and visiting substitute Darr poked in an injury time equaliser to deny Ramsbottom United the three points.

The first whistle sounded as the home side drew their first home league game of the campaign as the Rams were made to regret the numerous chances they squandered in the first half as two points disappointing slipped from their grasp so late in the contest.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Albinson (Stott 77mins), Heathcote, Brownhill, Meaney, Thompson, Mohammed, Dean, Rother (Moran 61mins), Gaskell (Zama 74mins), Daniels, Wright.  Subs not used: Williams, Kay.


North West Counties League DIvision 1
(report from Lancashire Telegraph archives)

THE Rams produced a battling performance against a strong Trafford side to come away from Shawe View with a share of the spoils.

On seven minutes Steve MacDonald found space and, as his original cross was blocked, the Rams were awarded a corner.

A great cross by MacDonald found the head of Cryer, but his neat flick went agonisingly along the six yard area.

Four minutes later and the influential Steve Maden unleashed a tremendous shot towards goal, but former Rams keeper Damian Rooney made the save look comfortable.

However, the Rams only had to wait a further three minutes before they finally broke the deadlock.

A poor clearance by Rooney was met by MacDonald, and after he passed one defender, he neatly laid the ball off to Cryer, who unleashed a superb shot into the net.

Trafford nearly got back on level terms within seconds of the restart, but Glyn Barke’s shot went high and wide.

However, Trafford finally got the goal they deserved in the 59th minute, when Campbell failed to clear the ball to safety and it was inadvertently diverted back towards goal by Hayden and to the surprise of the home supporters, it nestled into the bottom corner of the net.

The Rams got themselves back into the game and a five minute spell almost saw them take the lead.

But they had to be thankful in the end for Martin Campbell who produced a moment of brilliance to keep the scores at 1-1.


North West Counties League Worthington Challenge Cup Round 1

It was a second attempt to play this game having been iced off the previous Saturday and, unfortunately, it was the same story as the game was postponed once again … it was eventually played at the end of January and even then went to a replay two nights later!

The team news for that game was that Darren Bowman and David Yorke-Robinson were the two main injury doubts with Bowman, who was still rated as a doubtful starter, hoping to return from a terrible, two-footed tackle by Rossendale United’s Paul Lynch in the Boxing Day derby day clash that the Rams won 3-0.

There were fears that he may have sustained a serious injury after he was stretchered from the field, but it appeared he escaped with severe bruising.

Yorke-Robinson’s knee injury was still not showing signs of improvement and he was likely to miss out again.

One player who definitely wouldn’t have payed was Mark Heyes who was released from the club and looked set to join Curzon Ashton while Castleton St Gabriels and Darwen were also interested.


North West Counties League DIvision 2 Trophy Quarter-Final
(match report from Rossendale Free Press)

Ramsbottom United’s new formation has landed them a place in the semi-finals of the Second Division Cup.

After losing five games on the trot before Christmas, manager Ken Bridge introduced a diamond formation and this has brought noteable victories against high flyers Castleton Gabriels in the North West Counties League and Haslingden on Saturday in the quarer-finals of the cup.

“We have only used this formation in our last two matches but it has given us more strength at the back,” said striker Steve Johnson. “I am the lone player up front but I am enjoying the role.

“I have 13 goals this season and I will keep on scoring provided Iam given good service.”

Bridge has also made two significant signings – centre-half Jon Parkinson has made a big impact in the defence while Mike Langhorn has stengthened the left side of the midfield.

Bridge said “We got our just rewards and we worked hard for the victory.  We did well to get back into the game but we missed chanced before we went 1-0 down with an own goal.

“before we were letting in goals too easily an the players are now listening about where to defend.

“Brothers Carl and Paul Stanley took their chance well against their town team.  They replaced suspended players Mark Isherwood and Mark Keegan.”

Haslingden had three corners on the trot before Parkinson glanced a cross home when he attempted to clear the danger.

Johnson then equalised with a penalty before firing home after Parkinson had headed on a free-kick.

Martin Hulme then scored one of Rammy’s best boals since the joined the North West Counties League when he hammered home a 25-yard shot after beating several defenders.

Ramsbottom United will face Middlewich Athletic over two legs in the semi-finals.