New manager David Chadwick will be in no doubt about the size of the task in keeping the Rams in the NPL after yet another defeat.
In his third game in charge, he introduced more new players replacing those he has parted company with, but the new look, younger team still failed to collect the first three points of 2023 as they fell to a controversial penalty defeat against the Merseyside visitors.
There can be no doubting the effort of the team, but in reality, there was very little threat up front, with the visitors deserving to take the points home.
For much of the first half it was a case of end-to-end without goal-scoring opportunities being created, and it took until the 32nd minute before either keeper was troubled. When they were, Bootle must still be wondering how they didn’t take the lead. A dangerous ball into the area found the experienced Tom Peterson whose close-range effort was miraculously kept out by home keeper Tom Wooster who then watched helplessly as the rebound flew up and out from the bar.
That seemed to spur Bootle on, as captain James McCarten came close from a corner before Jack McGowan blasted a half-clearance over the top.
The Rams responded with a low drive in from the left that beat the visiting defence, but the on-rushing Henri Ogunby couldn’t quite make contact at the far post.
As the half drew to a close, Bootle thought they had snatched the lead when a tempting low drive from the left was met at the far post by the ever-dangerous Peterson, but his joy was short-lived as he looked up to see the assistants flag raised.
Early in the second half, a couple of half-chances came the Rams way with a good header from Ryan Jennings being palmed away for a corner before Michael Fitzgerald saw his long-range effort clear the bar.
However, Bootle continued to look threatening, and again they were denied the opener when another left-wing cross was tucked home only for a raised flag to again frustrate the visitors.
But their persistence finally paid off in the 69th minute, although there was some controversy about what proved to be the winner.
The wily Peterson raced into the right-hand side of the area, choosing his time to perfection to slip across the covering defender and tumble over. The referee pointed to the spot despite vehement protests from the home side, and Peterson dusted himself down to calmly slot home from twelve yards.
The Rams had a penalty appeal of their own turned down near the end, but in reality, the points deservedly went back with Bootle, and the shot-shy Rams remain looking anxiously over their shoulders, as the drop to the NWCFL appears to be gathering pace.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Wooster, Radcliffe, Askew, Bentley, Fitzgerald, Hall, Ogunby(McWilliams 47mins), Jennings(Southworth 78mins), McNair, Scanlon, Tinsdale(Lockett 70mins).Subs not used: Collinge, Riding