Ramsbottom United 1-0 Lancaster City
A combination of brave defending, a lack of conviction and some misfortune meant that Ramsbottom's 100 per cent record at home to Lancaster City continued on Tuesday night.
Ryan Salmon’s early strike was enough to ensure the Dolly Blues failed to seize top spot and that their 3-1 victory at Giant Axe in September would remain the only points they have picked up against the Rams.
In the opening exchanges Salmon had a blistering volley and a delicate flick both well saved by Mike Hale.
At the other end Oliver Crolla fizzed across goal to no avail and Ricky Mercer was denied by the impressive Charlie Albinson.
The opening goal game 13 minutes in after Crolla should have done better with a hook towards goal but could only find Albinson, who initiated a swift counter attack.
Salmon found himself through on goal far too easily, even at a wide angle, but still rolled through the on-rushing Hale to break the deadlock.
From that point onwards it seemed only a matter of time before Lancaster would level things up.
A good move involving Louis Mayers and Crolla ended with Craig Carney dragging narrowly wide.
Adam Sumner whipped in a dangerous set piece which was fumbled by Albinson but the young stopper redeemed himself by denying Josh Westwood on the rebound and even at this point it looked like it was going to be one of those days.
Throughout the game Ramsbottom’s most impressive player was left back Josh Askew, but Jacob Gregory still managed to have him twisting and turning on several occasions, including early on in the second half where his whipped ball in was headed off target by returning substitute Dan Shearwood.
The hosts’ rearguard action was working for the large part but a little more assurance from City or a slice of luck would have certainly turned the game on its head.
Carney went a dazzling run but could only slice wide of the near post before Albinson pulled off a fine save, as Winder’s free-kick was met by Mercer and bounced off Mayers with the striker in an offside position.
Carney had another effort deflected wide, this time from the edge of the box, with the referee giving a goal kick much to Lancaster’s confusion.
The Dolly Blues came closest late on when Shearwood skipped past his man and drilled to the back post but Sumner could only rifle against the post.
Albinson was to thwart City again when Winder’s free-kick was flicked on by Mayers and Sumner again was denied but this time by the alert United ‘keeper.
Ramsbottom held on for their fifth victory in six league outings against the Dolly Blues who were left to rue a missed opportunity at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.
Ramsbottom United: Albinson, Stott, Askew, Meaney (Roscoe 55), Thompson, Linwood, Green, Spencer, Salmon (Botham 88), Seddon (capt), Freakes (Atherton 86). Subs not used: Crankshaw, Hollindrake.
Lancaster City: Hale, Wills, Sumner, Akrigg, Westwood, Mercer (capt), Gregory (Clark 81), Winder, Mayers, Carney, Crolla (Shearwood 60). Subs not used: Henry, Raybould.
Referee: Nathaniel Cox