by | Mar 11, 2024

Manchester Optical

We have 13 games left to play, just four of them on our home patch and we welcome local rivals Prestwich Heys to the HWRS for our last game in our back yard until Easter Monday. But all of a sudden, every game – home or away – has become must win!

Manchester Optical

MATCH: Ramsbottom United vs Prestwich Heys
VENUE: Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, Ramsbottom, BL0 0BS
COMPETITION: North West Counties Premier Division
DATE: Tuesday 12th March 2024
KICK-OFF: 7.45pm
ADMISSION: Adults – £9, Concessions – £5, U12 – £1 (with paying adult)

Let’s have a little bit of a deep delve! The Rams have got 13 games still on the fixture list and we have a hoard of ‘games in hand’ over all the teams around us bar Charnock Richard who are three games behind us. However, we sit in 18th place and just seven points clear of 23rd placed Squires Gate.

The thing to consider is that the FA might throw a huge spanner in the works before the season is out. We all know that 24 teams in this league is far, far too many but what the Rams don’t want to do is leave their fate to chance. A league reshuffle? Teams up and down fitting in? Oh….. oh yes!

What we also need to start to consider is that we have two games against the league leaders, the new Bury FC. We also must play play-off chasers Chadderton, Colne and Padiham. And, just to throw into the mix too, games with teams that are chasing us in Squires Gate, Pilkington and Burscough.

Our manager Steve Wilkes has described our current situation as a ‘rut’. His charges need to get out of that rut… and fast! The reason – we face another of those teams targetting the top five places on Tuesday night in the shape of old Manchester League friends, Prestwich Heys.

Heys are sat in seventh place in the table, just three points shy of the dotted line although they have hit a rough patch of late with a run of six winless games halted on Saturday with a dogged 1-0 away win over Glossop North End getting their play-off challenge back on track.

Can the Rams get back to winning ways as those back-to-back victories that split January and February do seem a long time ago – they are because of the weather!

Three successive 2-1 reverses have left many questions and few answers. A horrendous spate of injuries, a heavily interupted schedule, players coming and going have all contributed to a forgettable campaign.

But Steve is still confident of a top 10 finish. The challenge on Tuesday night is a huge one, especially given the performance that the Rams showed in the reverse fixture in September which was, well, it really wasn’t good at all!

All that the team ask is that we stick with them. It’s been hard this season, certainly not the season that we all hoped for. Let’s keep on cheering the lads on as better has to be just around the corner… surely!

It is great to welcome Prestwich Heys to the HWRS for the first time in a competitive fixture since the Gilgryst Cup semi-final in May 1995 which the Rams won 3-2 after extra time.

However, if you need a reminder of the indifferent night at Adie Moran Park in September, here is Tony Cunningham’s match report.


Steve knows his side are in a rut but knows they have the quality to get out of it!

“Games are coming thick and fast as we welcome a team challenging for the play offs in Prestwich Heys and we will see two players who have played for us this season in Pa Jenkins and Dylan Fitzgerald.

“Saturday saw us lose two key players to injury in Ryan and Luke Sephton, on top of that we’ve been told Luke Jackson will miss the rest of the season with his injury picked up last Tuesday.

“Tonight we might see Tom Walker back in the squad for the first time in 14 weeks. Tom’s been a huge miss for us so it would be nice to see him back on the pitch.

“A message to the fans would be stick with us, it’s not been the season we all expected but hopefully we can finish in the top 10.”