EVO-STIK NORTH RAMSBOTTOM UTD ....... 1 CLITHEROE ...................... 0 JON HASLAM
RA M S B O T TOM United entertained play-off chasing Clitheroe on Saturday at the HWRS less than 48 hours after facing Ossett Albion.
The Rams’ starting lineup showed two changes from the goalless draw on Thursday night with Greg Daniels returning and Harry Foulds making his first start for the home ●● side in place of Jon Robinson and Tom Brooks respectively.
The opening exchanges were fairly even with neither team troubling the opposing keeper in the first ten minutes as Clitheroe looked to close the eight point gap to the final play off position.
It would be the home side that would create the best of the opportunities with Sam Madeley sliding through an excellent pass to Jerome Wright but before the wide man could get his shot away the chance had gone as the visitors defence recovered and snuffed out the danger.
Shortly afterwards the Rams would create another half chance when a long throw found Daniels who laid the ball back to Madeley but the strikers shot was blocked by a Clitheroe defender, from the resultant corner Ryan Ellison headed towards his defensive partner Thompson but the header cleared the crossbar.
Clitheroe were finding it difficult to create any worthwhile goalscoring chances as the hosts played some incisive football with the left hand side proving to be a profitable area as Phil Dean and Wright linked up a number of times to great effect.
The pattern of the opening half an hour continued with Wright firing over after a clever free kick from Daniels before a pinpoint pass from Foulds found Jordan whose cross picked out Dean but the effort sailed wide of the target.
With just over a third of the contest played the visitors sparked into life from an attacking perspective when the lively Willoughby tested Sam Ashton in the home goal twice in quick succession but the Rams stopper plunged down low to save both efforts without too much concern for a goal keeper of Ashton’s obvious talents.
As the interval arrived with the deadlock still to be broken the home side had created a number of presentable chances without perhaps testing Thompson in the Clitheroe goal as often as they would have hoped.
The opening minutes of the second period belonged to the away side as first Willoughby who has 24 league goals to his name this term tested Ashton with a well struck free kick before the Rams stopper pulled off a stunning save low down to deny West whose well struck shot looked destined for the bottom corner until Ashton produced an outstanding one hand handed save to keep the scoresheet blank.
With almost ten minutes of the second half played the stalemate was almost broken by the hosts when a shot from the impressive Morecambe loanee Luke Jordan looked to have beaten Thompson but rebounded off the post and was cleared to safety to provide in a snapshot how the last few weeks have gone for the Rams.
With the hour mark reached the home side freshened up the frontline by making their first substitution with Jon Robinson replacing Madeley.
Clitheroe responded with a change of their own and almost grabbed the lead when good interplay down the left gave Rigby a chance but before the full back could shoot the ever dependable Luke Thompson shepherded the ball to safety in characteristic fashion.
The home side replied to a bout of Clitheroe pressure with good link up play between Wright and Daniels before the latter’s shot missed the target but showed that the Rams were continuing to push for the victory and not be content to sit on their advantage.
With 20 minutes remaining Harry Foulds made way for Chris Rushworth and the young midfielder had every right to be very pleased with his first start in a Ramsbottom United shirt as his promising performance came to an end, the home supporters showed their appreciation of the youngsters confident display giving him a warm round of applause for his efforts alongside skipper Dean Stott in the Rams midfield.
Minutes later the hosts made the breakthrough when Jordan received the ball from a throw in before gliding past his man and sending a sublime cross from the right wing onto the head of the onrushing Jerome Wright whose bullet header from eight yards out gave Thompson no chance as the Rams took a deserved and decisive lead on 72 minutes.
With the deadlock broken Clitheroe looked for a way back into the match as the remaining two changes were made in an effort to give the away side some attacking momentum but much as the visitors pushed forward the Rams team to a ●● Luke Thompson attempts a goal-bound header man were superb in repelling what the visitors threw at them.
The only real moment of concern for the Ramsbottom United defence in the remainder of the contest was a well struck shot from Willoughby but Ashton saved comfortably as the hosts saw the match out and in turn claimed their fourth clean sheet in the last six home games.
The victory was a welldeserved and welcome three points against a Clitheroe outfit that had scored four goals in each of the last three meetings between the two sides.
Jerome Wright celebrates scoring his goal-of-the-season contender