RAMSBOTTOM lost ground in the Evo-Stik West title race, suffering a 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle Town.

The Rams had won back-to-back games, against Droylsden and Prescot Cables, but Tuesday night’s loss leaves Chris Willcock’s side five points behind leaders Atherton, who have two games in hand.

Visitors Newcastle started brightly and led within five minutes, catching the hosts on the counter-attack, with James Steele setting up the unmarked Chris Smith to slot home from close range.

Stung into action by the early setback, the Rams looked to find a way back quickly but Kyle Jacobs had a shot that just cleared the crossbar, Nic Evangelinos’ shot was blocked and Tom Schofield’s low drive flashed across goal and went wide of the post.

The Rams finally levelled five minutes before half time.

Evangelinos’ cross from the left flank was headed home at the far post by Jacobs, who netted his first goal since November.

As the first half came to a close, Jamie Rainford almost headed the Rams into the lead but his effort was straight at keeper Jack Livesey.

The Rams created fewer chances in the second half.

Rainford tried an overhead kick that sailed wide and the Town keeper – an easy choice for the man of the match – confidently dealt with a number of high crosses into the box.

Against the run of play, Newcastle regained the lead on 72 minutes, Jordan Cole scoring with a fabulous free kick from the edge of the area, Rammy keeper Dale Latham getting a hand to but unable to keep it out.

The Rams had a couple of half-chances in the final 15 minutes, Rainford having a shot saved at close range and Luke Thompson trying an overhead kick that went wide.

Despite pressure late on, the final whistle blew on a disappointing night, particularly as they had returned from Staffordshire in last month’s reverse fixture with a 6-0 win under their belts.

Overall, it was a frustrating evening for the Rams.

n Willcock has brought in three new signings to bolster the squad’s push for the title.

Experienced goalkeeper Dale Latham made his debut against Prescot, Jack Kay has joined on a dual-registration deal from AFC Fylde, and Boston United midfielder Spencer Harris marked his debut in Saturday’s victory over Prescot with a goal, Rainford netting the other goal in a 2-0 win.

Rammy travel to third-placed Runcorn Linnets this Saturday, knowing victory can lift them above their hosts and closer to the top two, Atherton and Radcliffe, who play each other.