Heathcote is switched to deadly effect
EVO-STIK NORTH DIVISION ONE RAMSBOTTOM ........... 2 BRIGHOUSE TOWN.... 1 JON HASLAM A MUCH-CHANGED Rams side took on a Brighouse outfit that had won just once on their travels this season and returned to winning ways following back-to-back defeats against.
The home side began the contest with the versatile Sam Heathcote in a central striking role as injury and unavailability deprived the Rams of their usual options up front. It turned out to be a blessing for the home side with Heathcote bagging both goals.
“When you consider we played a centre half up front, had to make three changes in the back four due to injury, it was a good display. For us it’s an important win, puts us back in the play-offs.”
Both sides showed their attacking intent in the early period of the contest but it was the Rams that opened the scoring when on 13 minutes a typically strong left wing run and cross from the hugely influential Jerome Wright found Heathcote whose shot beat visiting keeper Hallwood as the home side took a deserved lead.
Perhaps the best chance came minutes before half time when a Grant Spencer free kick was headed back from the byline into the penalty area by Roscoe before being met by Luke Thompson whose powerful header flew over the crossbar.
This was the last chance in a fairly quiet first half with the visitors unable to muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Ramsbottom began the second period in blistering fashion and looked to extend their advantage with a series of presentable chances. Daniels was at his skilful best to control a difficult pass before turning and testing the Brighouse keeper before the same player sent in a corner that Roscoe almost connected with at the far post.
The home side’s attacking quartet were linking up well in the opening stages of the second half as the Rams gained a reward for their bright start when Greg Daniels skipped past a couple of Brighouse challenges before feeding the ball through to Heathcote who unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past the Brighouse keeper to give the makeshift striker his second goal of the match and fourth of the season.
The move to play Heathcote in a central striker role was proving to be a masterstroke from Rams manager Mark Fell, the reliable defender was thoroughly justifying the decision as his hold up play and work rate was excellent throughout.
In somewhat fortuitous circumstances Brighouse found a way back into the match almost immediately as Taberner punched out a vicious in-swinging corner onto Normanton and somehow the ball found its way over the line as the visitors reduced the arrears.
The Rams then replaced the creative Spencer with the pacey Regan Jarrett on 64 minutes as the game was beginning to have an open feel to it as Brighouse sensed they could force an equaliser.
With Brighouse throwing caution to the wind the Rams had Luke Thompson to thank for preserving their lead when a dangerous cross from the by-line looked destined to reach a Brighouse forward before Thompson acrobatically cleared the danger.
This was only the third time in 16 attempts that Ramsbottom United had tasted victory in a league game on a Tuesday night.