A worrying drop in form of late has seen many Ramsbottom fans dreams of promotion drop off the proverbial cliff. The 5-0 away smashing by Bootle must have done little for the players’ confidence either. Striker Jamie Rainford must have had enough already, as he announced his departure midweek.
Despite local weather conditions threatening to add to the misery, a twinkle of hope arose through the clouds out of nowhere before today’s game – 5 (yes not a misprint, 5!) new signings would be making their way to the Riverside, and with a decent array of experience and potential on paper between them. The most exciting and surprising of which being former 1.8 million pound Bayern Munich buy Dale Jennings. Still only 28, to see him drop to this level seems incredible but is hopefully indicative of his passion for the game, and a big sign of intention from Rammy to turn things back around as quickly as possible.
The game certainly started on the right note. Three attacks in rapid succession straight from the kickoff provided decent promise but none were to prove fruitful, with Domaine Rouse and James Murphy both firing narrowly wide. New signing from Curzon Ashton, Luke Merrill, looked busy in the centre midfield if a little raw.
But beyond those opening minutes, Rammy struggled to impose themselves. Regan Jarrett, filling in for missing captain Tom Kennedy at left back had a torrid time dealing with Leek’s number 11 Will Saxon and their right back Jess Bayanga, and the majority of the visitors play came down that side with them exploiting it as a weakness.
Our other debutant Dale Jennings would struggle to get into the game out wide, with a few neat flicks and ticking over possession when he did get the ball, but nothing great in an offensive sense – certainly not the explosive attacking style people remember from his time at Tranmere and Barnsley earlier in his career, although we did seem to struggle to get the ball to him when he did take up positions further up the field. We will need to work out how to get the best out of him, as he does have the talent that surely not many in the league will possess.
In the second half, it was much of the same but there was a really encouraging performance from a third debutant, substitute Omar Ibrahim, who appeared fast and combative with a powerful shot. He was unlucky not to score with a sweetly struck effort but it was fired too centrally to beat the Leek number one who was on hand to block.
Leek central defender Oliver Harrison eventually broke the deadlock and from there on in the result looked a formality, with the visitors looking dangerous throughout. Some goalkeeping heroics from Tom Stewart kept things modest, but a deserved late goal from probable man of the match Will Saxon (who a young group of supporters referred to jokingly throughout the whole match as Btec Jack Grealish) made it a 2-0 win to the boys from Staffordshire, in an enviable 6th position in the league with Rammy confined to a disappointing 12th.
Where do we go from here?