DESPITE switching the venue to their opponents’ home ground, Ramsbottom were 3-1 winners in their Bank Holiday derby against Atherton Collieries.

The game was switched to Colls’ Kensite Stadium due to a Twenty20 tournament at Ramsbottom Cricket Club and their struggles on the road resurfaced early on.

Atherton immediately had Rammy on the back foot, with right-back Dave Sherlock advancing dangerously and Ben Hardcastle, Adam Farrell and Connor Gaul giving Mark Fell’s side a few scares early on, though Rammy keeper Sam Ashton was relatively untroubled.

But, shortly after Lee Gaskell fired straight into keeper Jack Cookson’s arms, Jack Higgs made the most of his return to the side, scoring from close range after Jerome Wright’s far-post free kick landed at his feet.

Within five minutes Fell’s men doubled their lead. Luke Thompson was brought down in the box and Wright took the opportunity to convert the resulting penalty, chipped expertly over Cookson.

Colls came sprinting out of the blocks in the second period, and within minutes of the restart had halved Rammy’s lead. From a free kick, Danny Lafferty hit the post and Hardcastle turned in the rebound, reacting first to open up the possibility of a second-half comeback.

However, the Rams survived the second-half pressure that Atherton posed, the solid back four holding out superbly as Atherton built their momentum from the goal.

However it was Ramsbottom who scored a slightly bizarre third goal to seal victory, as winger Nathan Brown delivered a free kick that flew past everyone before beating Cookson in the Atherton goal.

The home side threw caution to the wind in the final stages but after Vinny Bailey’s shot had been well saved by Ashton, a chance came at the other end, which Rammy sub Ben Deegan sent over the bar.

But after his side had held out for a well-earned three points, Rammy manager Fell said: “You want to get off to a flying start, I though the lads were excellent, we had enough quality in the team to create those opportunities. From my perspective we were resilient when we needed to be but we still had the quality to score the goals and see the game out.”

Ramsbottom and Kidsgrove will have a replay to decide who progesses in the FA Cup after their 1-1 draw.

Hosts Kidsgrove had led in the first half through captain Ant Malbon but, with 11 minutes remaining Wright scored a penalty after Rhys Thompson had fouled him in the area.