RAMSBOTTOM United were forced into a rearguard action to take a point from a 1-1 draw at home to Leek Town.

After Jamie Rother had put the Rams ahead, a red card for Ruben Jerome and an equaliser for the visitors from the penalty spot saw Chris Willcock’s side battling at the end.

The high-flying visitors from Staffordshire created the first effort on goal, Aaron Bott curling his shot wide of the target.

At the other end Jerome brought a routine save from Leek keeper Danny Roberts.

With just over a quarter of an hour played the Rams made the breakthrough.

Ryan Ellison’s cross found Eddie Moran and the midfielder’s well-directed header was met perfectly by the onrushing Rother who controlled the ball well before confidently finishing with a low drive for his third goal of the season.

As the encounter continued free-flowing football was limited, though the tricky Nic Evangelinos and the ever-reliable Moran caused the visitors’ defence problems with their positive runs.

Leek fashioned two efforts in quick succession, forward Robert Stevenson shooting narrowly wide after a neat turn and clipping the top of Sam Ashton’s bar with a piledriver from distance.

As half time loomed Rammy were reduced to 10 men.

Referee Stuart Morland saw a petulant off-the-ball incident involving Jerome and Leek’s Jack Sanders and issued a red card to the hosts’ forward.

Despite the disadvantage they nearly doubled the lead on the stroke of half time when a bustling run from the industrious Jamie Rainford took him past two defenders but his attempt was blocked by Roberts.

Leek took the early initiative after the break and were handed a way back into the match when young Rams midfielder Anthony Donaldson was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.

Bott sent Ashton the wrong way from the resulting penalty to level.

Thereafter Leek enjoyed the majority of the territorial advantage, and tried to use the width of the pitch to disrupt the home side’s defensive organisation, Luke Thompson and Kelvin Lugsden doing a fine job of protecting Ashton.

With chances at a premium and three quarters of the contest played Leek tried to claim another penalty for handball when Stevenson’s shot was blocked but the referee waved their shouts away.

Keen to nick the winner, Leek continued to push players forward while the hosts were hoping to pinch an unlikely victory through Tom Kennedy’s set pieces. However, neither side could create the chance that would ultimately secure the win.

Jamie Rainford had a promising effort blocked for the Rams and Leek substitute Sam Hall fired a half-volley over the bar with almost the final kick of the match.

The draw means Ramsbottom now sit in seventh position in Evo-Stik West.

Thoughts now turn to Saturday’s historic FA Trophy second-round tie against Weymouth.

Kick off at The Riverside Stadium is 3pm.