Seven games to go. One more in March and then six in a busy April. Seven games for the Rams to save themselves from a return to the North West Counties League for the first time since 2012. The first of the seven … Widnes at home as the Rams hunt that illusive first point under new manager David Chadwick.
MATCH: Ramsbottom United vs Widnes
VENUE: Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, Bridge street, Ramsbottom, BL0 0BS
COMPETITION: Northern Premier League West Division
DATE: Saturday 25th March 2023
You can pay on the gate – CASH ONLY – adults £9, concessions £5, students (age 17-18) £6, Children under 12 £1 (with a paying adult). Pie and Peas available throughout the afternoon – and tea and coffee in a proper mug! Programmes are £2 each (you can find these just before the turnstile).
Saturday 5th November 2022. Something of a day that has been etched into Ramsbottom United supporters memory banks as ‘the moment’. A 3-1 defeat at the hands of our opponents on Saturday at the cavaneous DCBL Stadium sent the Rams tumbling to the bottom of the table, overtaken by the victors, and we have remained there ever since.
Many of the 127 who packed into the 13,500 seater stadium wearing Rammy blue left with that sinking feeling. That was 17 games ago and we have won just two since and collected nine points from a possible 51. And 37 players have featured for the team since then as the revolving turnstile has spun continuously.
The Rams now find themselves marooned at the foot of the table, 11 points from the relegation play-offs and 13 from safety. If they are to have any kind of hope of beating the dreaded slide back to a league the Rams finally climbed out of in 2012 after 18 years of trying, a home win is a must.
Manager David Chadwick, five games into his tenure and still hunting his first point, has made club secretary Tony Cunningham work hard over the last few weeks and, especially the last few days, as the transfer deadline hit on Thursday and he tries to find a combination that will bring some cheer to the Rammy faithful.
But he, like they, know that nothing more than a victory at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium on Saturday is needed. No, it is not needed. It is truly a must win otherwise the Rams can start to plan for Congleton Town, Prestwich Heys, West Didsbury and Chorlton, Irlam, Squires Gate and old foes Padiham once again.
Widnes find themselves in 17th place, having won five of their last 10 games, although came unstuck 0-2 on Tuesday night against promotion chasing Leek Town. A victory for them could lift them out of the relegation places into 16th so they will be very keen to complete the double over us.
Check out our “Have We Met?” feature linked below where you can read about the history between the two clubs.
Since that article was written, the Rams returned a 3-2 victory at the HWRS in November 2011 thanks to goals from Jamie Rother and Hugo Rodriguez within the first 13 minutes although Greg McCarragher responded on 19 minutes. John Murphy gave the hosts a 3-1 interval lead and Ryan Jennings’ 75th minute strike was only enough to make the last quarter hour interesting as the Rams held on.
Sam Turner’s strike on 58 minutes was all that split the sides in February 2022 at Halton as the home side ran out 1-0 victors and then there was 5 November 2022 …. a 3-1 win for Widnes with goals from Tom Stephens, Steven Irwin and Luke Sephton – Oscar Radcliffe pulled one back for the very second-best visitors.
The only really confirmed team news is that Will Hall is forced to sit out the third of his four match ban for his sending off against Clitheroe, meaning he will miss this and the Colne games.
But manager David Chadwick has been very busy trying to bring in a number of players before the transfer deadline passed on Thursday and to some effect.
Joining the Rams is 25-year-old Burnley-born striker Lewis Mansell, a former Blackburn Rovers, Partick Thistle and Accrington Stanley player, who scored in the EFL Trophy for Stanley against Barrow in November 2020.
Also signing on is Irish-born 21-year-old Don Ogbeifun, who has moved up to the north having played previously for Chippenham Town and Westbury United in the Southern League.
There has also been moves to include a number of the youngsters from the Junior/Academy ranks with Jayden Bailey, who came off the bench at Kidsgrove, joined by Oliver Booth, Lewis Connell and Tom Hopley in being signed on.