REPORT | Widnes 1-1 Ramsbottom United
By Callum Chadwick
Widnes forced to settle for a point
Widnes had to settle for a point at home to Ramsbottom United as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at The Offside Trust Stadium.
Dale Korie-Butler put the Whites ahead on seven minutes as he capitalised on a defensive error to lob Ramsbottom keeper Sam Ashton.
Widnes had efforts to double their advantage in the second half but a long-range Jerome Wright effort 18 minutes from time rescued a point for the visiting Rams.
Joint-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey handed skipper Kev Pollard and Danny Ventre recalls to the starting line-up amongst two Widnes changes. George Webster and Chris Lomax dropped to the bench while new signing Rob Bourne wasn’t involved.
The hosts started well but it was Ramsbottom who spurned an early chance with Wright striking wide of the far post after latching on to Lee Gaskell’s header.
Ramsbottom manager Chris Willcock was taking charge of only his second game at the helm after replacing Mark Fell who left for Lancaster City last week.
The new Rams boss would have been looking for an improvement after a 2-2 draw with Chasetown on Saturday, but his side gifted Widnes an early opener.
Luke Thompson’s wayward defensive header allowed Korie-Butler to latch on to the loose ball and delicately lift a well-taken lob over the head of the on-rushing Ashton, nestling in the empty net.
Korie-Butler was proving to be a handful for the Ramsbottom backline early on, but he couldn’t quite grab a telling touch to direct Ventre’s teasing pass towards goal.
Widnes suffered a blow midway through the half as loan signing Jack Dunn limped off with a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury suffered last month at parent club Warrington Town.
Ben Hodkinson was introduced as his replacement, but he had barely been on the pitch for 90 seconds when teammate Mike Burke pulled up in agony with an apparent hamstring injury of his own.
The Whites were forced into a quick reshuffle with Webster brought on as skipper Pollard dropped in at centre-half, with the double injury blow halting Widnes’ early momentum.
The opening 45 minutes petered out of a contest, but Widnes quickly regained control of the contest early in the second half and should have increased their lead.
Hodkinson delivered a delicious corner towards the near-post with the unmarked Michael Grogan heading over from close-range as another Widnes chance went begging.
Widnes survived a let-off on the hour-mark as Eddie Moran hit the bar from a corner for Ramsbottom before Jay Roberts threw himself in the way of Gaskell’s follow-up effort.
Despite rarely troubling Widnes’ back-four, Ramsbottom grabbed an equaliser on 72 minutes.
Rams’ skipper Wright found himself in space 25 yards from goal and hit a fierce daisy-cutter towards goal that fizzed into the bottom corner with Widnes keeper Ryan Neild beaten at full-stretch as the visitors drew level.
Widnes could have won it late on as Hodkinson hit a powerful volley towards goal that was brilliantly beaten away by Ashton at his near-post.
The hosts had the better of the late exchanges, but Ramsbottom had a chance of their own to secure all three points but Ruben Jerome fired off target from inside the area.
Widnes return to action on Saturday, taking on Glossop North End at Surrey Street. Kick-off 3pm.