With four points from their last two league games and two clean sheets behind them, the Rams had been in a good run of form leading up to this match against promotion-chasing visitors Runcorn Linnets.
After a quiet opening fifteen minutes, the first serious threat on goal came from ex-Ram Jamie Rainford whose shot was blocked by keeper Harry Turner. Soon after, Tom Croughan did well on the right to make space for himself before blasting his shot narrowly over the bar.
The away team then came back into the game with Oladapo Olarewaju looking dangerous down the left wing. On three separate occasions leading up to the half-time break, he managed to break free of defenders and unleash shots on goal which keeper Turner, putting in yet another fine shot-stopping performance, did well to keep out.
Soon after the start of the second half, the deadlock was broken when after 51 minutes Tony Donaldson found space down the right wing before delivering a cross which fell invitingly into the path of Croughan to side-foot home to put the Rams 1-0 up. Unfortunately, the lead did not last long. Three minutes later, a cannon off a defender left Runcorn Linnet no. 8 James Hooper in front of goal and he made no mistake placing a right foot shot beyond the keeper to level the score at 1-1.
Equalising so soon seemed to have a galvanising effect on the away side. For long periods of the match from now on, the visitors camped themselves in the Rammy half, applying pressure on the home defence. Stoutly as central defenders Kelvin Lugsden and Lee Neville stuck to their task, the direction of play seemed one-way.
A second goal began to look inevitable but in the event came from an unlikely source. After 74 minutes, an in-swinging corner from Linnets’ skipper James Short angled over everyone in the goal-area before striking the far post and rebounding into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. While the home team found it difficult to get back into the game, the visitors played as if keen to extend their lead.
With four minutes to go, the Linnets succeeded in clinching the match after a series of pin-table ricochets in the Rammy box ended in Tom Moore tucking the ball away to leave the away team with an unassailable 3-1 lead.
While there had seemed reason to believe that the Rams might gain something from this match, it wasn’t to be on the day. Signs are though that the team has developed a much more determined attitude in recent times which is bound to stand them in good stead. Next week brings City of Liverpool to the HWRS, fellow contenders against relegation, in a fixture in which both sides will be striving to perform well.
RAMSBOTTOM: Turner, Radcliffe, McKenna, Lugsden, Neville, Osi-Efa (Jennings 68), Croughan, Rother, Halfacre (Ogunby 68), Donaldson, Murphy (Johnson 76). Subs not used: Fitzgerald, Barlow.
Pics: Jake Horrocks