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Leigh RMI 2 Droylsden 2

By Matt Lawton
November 11 2006

A second half goal from Dan Owen gave RMI a deserved point against high-flying Droylsden amidst horrible weather conditions at Hilton Park. Hilton Park played host not only to an enthralling, full-blooded contest between sides at the opposite ends of the Conference North table, but also an entire range of weather systems, as gale force winds and bright sunshine gave way to torrential rainfall as the darkness started to arrive in the second half.

RMI went in to the game on the back of two consecutive defeats, at the hands of Hinckley and Barrow respectively, although they unexpectedly had a few days of extra rest after the scheduled visit to Nelson for a Lancashire FA Trophy tie fell victim to the East Lancashire weather on Wednesday evening.

Visiting Droylsden meanwhile arrived at Hilton Park in sixth place in the Conference North, though they did fall to a shock 3-1 home defeat to bottom side Scarborough last weekend, even though they took the lead that afternoon through former Vauxhall Motors and Southport striker Terry Fearns, a man with a notorious knack of scoring goals against RMI.

It was Fearns who had the first chance of the afternoon, but he failed to maintain his terrific scoring record by heading wide of the target, despite having a clear view of goal after being left unmarked by a flat-footed RMI defence.

Even at such an early stage of the game, it was clear that an open game was in prospect as both sides started to create chances, with the best one falling to RMI centre half Gavin Lee-Ellison. He found himself in an acre of space at the back post following a corner, only for him to seem almost shocked to receive the ball, resulting in a wayward header over the crossbar and a golden opportunity wasted.

Ellison’s miss seemed less costly after eighteen minutes when a long ball from full back Andy Roscoe gave winger Steve Settle a clear run on goal and, despite the plausible appeals for handball from the Droylsden defence and supporters alike, he took the ball around the goalkeeper and remained calm to slot the ball in to the unguarded net.

This forced the visitors in to action, but RMI goalkeeper John Lamb made a smart stop to deny Fearns, before Chris Simm twice went close to extending RMI’s lead, stinging the goalkeeper’s hands with a strike from outside the box, before a smart volley on the turn hit the stanchion behind the goal after some tantalising build-up play.

As has been the case on so many occasions in the past, RMI once again shot themselves in the foot and found themselves pegged back just before the interval when a goalmouth scramble finally resulted in Craig Robinson sweeping the ball in to the net from only a few yards out. The goal gave Droylsden a slight spring in their step and Lamb had to be at full stretch to tip a shot over the crossbar almost immediately after the equaliser and keep the scores level at the break.

As the rain started to fall, RMI found themselves undoing the good work of the first half and dangerously falling in to the bad habits of old, with it coming as little surprise that a suicidal pass across the RMI penalty area ended up with Steve Daly latching on to it and putting the ball in to the bottom corner to put the visitors in to the lead with only fourteen second half minutes on the clock.

RMI weren’t to be defeated though and, after a great right-flank run from Settle, striker Dan Owen was able to lunge forward on the edge of the six yard box and send the ball trickling in over the line past the despairing goalkeeper to ensure a point for RMI, despite more than a few edgy moments towards the end of the game.

The draw not only ends a run of consecutive defeats for RMI, but a good performance against one of the division’s better sides also gives them a massive confidence boost ahead of Wednesday’s rearranged visit to Nelson, not to mention the War of the Roses trip to Harrogate next Saturday.

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