AN AFTERNOON to forget for Ramsbottom saw them kick off the year with a 3-0 defeat at home to Atherton Collieries.

After a goalless first half, the visitors ran out convincing winners in the second period with Connor Gaul, Tom Bentham and Ben Conway all scoring.

Rammy dominated the first half but struggled to create many clear-cut chances.

Jamie Rainford hit the bar from outside the box and Richard Brodie saw one effort blocked and another sent off-target.

Nic Evangelinos went on several weaving runs, but his efforts on goal failed to match his hopeful charges.

The visitors were out of the blocks quicker in the second half with Ben Hardcastle immediately testing United keeper Sam Ashton.

Colls took the lead when a crossfield ball was cut out by centre-back Joel Bembo-Leta but fell kindly for Gaul to thump past Ashton.

Though Rammy upped their game, Atherton doubled their advantage largely against the run of play.

Tom Kennedy’s throw-in was mis-controlled by the Rams’ defence and Bentham took advantage, seeing off Ashton and leaving the home side with a mountain to climb.

It was almost three shortly after, with Hardcastle’s shot cleared off the line.

But Rammy were less fortunate in the 78th minute as sub Conway let fly and beat Ashton from outside the area to seal the victory.

Brodie went close to a consolation in the final few minutes. wriggling his way around the Colls backline, but seeing his finish cleared off the line by Connor Smith.