Evo-Stik Division One North: New Mills 1, Ramsbottom United 0
AN 88TH-MINUTE free-kick from David Fitzpatrick secured New Mills a hard-earned three points against Ramsbottom United.
Despite the absence of influential skipper Carlos Meakin, the Millers almost made the perfect start to the game in the third minute. Daniel Grimshaw escaped the clutches of the high defensive line but his resulting cross lacked sufficient pace to play in unmarked debutant striker Brandon Windsor. The ball was scrambled clear to the edge of the area where Ramsbottom’s Grant Shenton appeared to impede Daryl Weston, but referee Mr Pashley waved play on.
Ramsbottom squandered a very presentable opportunity to take the lead in the 11th minute when a misplaced defensive pass was seized upon by Phil Dean.
The midfielder neatly rounded the advancing Andrew Mills but the on-loan keeper pushed the attacker away from goal.
Probably the best chance of the opening half fell to the visitors eight minutes before the interval. A corner was swung in from the right which ultimately saw ex-New Mills striker Jon Robinson beat the keeper but his header rebounded back into play via the underside of the crossbar.
The Millers were again their own worst enemy five minutes after the break when a poorly-directed pass was capitalised upon by Robinson. With a free run on goal, the striker placed his effort past the onrushing Mills but fractionally wide of the far post.
Rammy had a glorious opportunity to take the lead ten minutes into the second half when they were awarded a penalty. A free-kick was only half cleared to the edge of the 18-yard box from where Danny Warrender was upended in the box by an outstretched defensive leg. Up stepped Gary Stopforth, who fatally hesitated in his run-up and saw his spot-kick clip the outside of the post.
Manager Ally Pickering made two attacking substitutions and it was New Mills who went exceptionally close to breaking the deadlock when Grimshaw’s low skimming effort crashed into the base of the post with Shenton a mere bystander.
With the clock ticking down, New Mills were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area after substitute Jordan Armstrong was barged over around 20 yards from goal, and full-back David Fitzpatrick curled the set-piece exquisitely into the bottom corner.
While Ramsbottom will feel aggrieved not to have picked up anything from the game, they only have themselves to blame for missing opportunities which New Mills clinically capitalised upon in the dying stages.
New Mills: Mills, Collins-Reed (Armstrong), Fitzpatrick, Bowler, Chadwick, Innes, Horrocks, Young, Windsor (Moore), Grimshaw, Weston (Burgess). Unused substitutes: Pickering, Mitten.