Ramsbottom United handed the advantage back to Runcorn Town in the North West Counties League Premier Division title race after dropping two points at home to long-time league leaders Bootle on Tuesday night.
Runcorn had knocked Rammy off the top spot on goal difference after thrashing Bacup Borough 7-0 the night before, and it looked like it was going to stay that way after Bootle took the lead on the stoke of half-time.
The visitors’ striker Kevin Black ghosted behind the Rams’ defence before lifting the ball over on-rushing keeper Grant Shenton.
Arctic conditions at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium made it difficult for Rammy to get back into the game in the second half, with both sets of players struggling to make any headway.
But Ryan Moore’s gamble in the 68th minute paid off, the ball rebounding off his back after he charged down the Bootle keeper’s attempted clearance. Moore then reacted quickest to nod the bouncing ball into an empty net. Despite controlling the remainder of the game, Rammy failed to convert their chances and are now just a point ahead of Runcorn Town, who have a game in hand.
The draw against Bootle ended a magnificent seven-match winning run for Ramsbottom in the league, which concluded with Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Congleton Town.
While the previous six wins had featured some swash-buckling football, this was much more of a grind, with the match played out on a bone hard pitch.
Rammy dominated the early stages, scoring what turned out to be the winner in the 11th minute.
Lee Gaskell stepped up to fire home a penalty after Grant Spencer was bundled over in the box.
The home side came more into the game after that and it was the turn of the Rams’ defence to star, standing firm for the 90 minutes to earn their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the league.
l Jon Robinson is a doubt for Ramsbottom’s Easter double header with Stone Dominoes (Saturday) and Bacup Borough (Monday) after picking up a back strain in Tuesday’s match.