With it being 448 minutes since Rammy had last scored a goal, it looked like a bit of a bonus to be playing against Kendal Town, already relegated and having conceded 86 goals over the season to date.
On the face of things, it appeared a perfect fixture for the Rams to be taking on with the aim of putting their own remaining relegation fears to rest. Yet, from the start, things did not work out as hoped. It didn’t help that changes had to be made to the line-up caused by the absences of key regulars, skipper Tom Kennedy and midfield dynamo Jamie Rother.
With these two players unavailable, the home team struggled to adjust with attacks breaking down repeatedly due to poor quality passing and the familiar problem of lack of width. Meanwhile Kendal, with nothing to lose on their part, seemed increasingly confident in pushing forward. If anything, on the balance of play, the visitors seemed to be enjoying the edge with keeper Tom Stewart, winner of the Rams’ player of the month award for March, being called into action rather too often for home fans’ comfort.
However, a determining moment arose in the 43rd minute with the Rams enjoying a slice of good luck when Mint Cakes’ skipper Darren Nightingale inexplicably failed to make contact with a ball lobbed forward in his direction. Perhaps the defender thought the ball had enough pace on it to go through to the keeper but, if so, he misjudged the situation badly. Almost disbelievingly, Rouse ran on to the ball and then steadied himself before coolly dispatching a right-foot shot past the despairing keeper to open up an all-important 1-0 lead. Coming against the run of play at this point in proceedings, the goal was greeted with massive relief by players, management and fans alike.
The Rams came back out on to the field for the second half very positively and as if determined to land a knock-out blow against demoralised-looking opponents. Not having scored for 448 minutes prior to this match, ironically a second goal was achieved within just seven minutes of the opening one on the afternoon. Arriving after 50 minutes, it was Domaine Rouse again on the scoresheet after latching on to a through ball before rounding the keeper and calmly slotting the ball into the net with his left foot to extend the Rams’ lead to 2-nil. From this point onwards, the opposition played as if resigned to losing.
Meanwhile the Rams, ever gaining in confidence, began to play intelligent passing moves in a style they have rarely shown themselves capable of in recent matches. Tony Donaldson, looking back to full fitness, was the main architect, demonstrating his effectiveness as a team player and creative force. At the same time, main striker John Murphy persevered throughout and came close on several occasions to adding his own name to the scoresheet. Godwin Abadaki, coming on as a sub, bustled about to considerable effect, unsettling the Kendal defence and getting on the end of Donaldson passes. Twice, he lofted the ball over the bar when through on goal. Despite the Rams’ clear ascendancy in the latter stages of the match, the final score remained 2-0.
As a result of today’s victory, and taking into account other teams’ scores on the day, the Rams succeeded in lifting themselves seven points above the dreaded 18th relegation play-off spot. An away match next Saturday against Market Drayton, the other team in the division already consigned to relegation, should prove another profitable outing for manager Donafee and his players.
RAMSBOTTOM: Stewart, Fitzgerald, Collinge, Osi-Efa, Barlow, Bamba, Hasler-Cregg (Abadaki 33), Ormrod (Carey 67), Murphy, Rouse (Grimshaw 83), Donaldson. Subs not used: Wyatt, Marshall-King.