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Leigh RMI 0 Worksop Town 1

By Matt Lawton
November 4 2005

On the eve of this year's "Bommy Night", Worksop managed to achieve what Guy Fawkes didn't as was able to escape the consequences of their actions against the odds. With the noise and colour of various local firework displays (shouldn't the people attending those have been at the match instead?!) provided a fitting backdrop to a particularly entertaining game between two sides who belied their lowly league positions and contrived to play some decent passing football, despite the teaming rain that had earlier put the game in doubt, though a pitch inspection earlier in the day saw the Hilton Park turf deemed to be excellent by the match officials.

With Hyde United manager Steve Waywell on the terraces, watching the side that his basement strugglers will face at Ewen Fields next Saturday, nostalgia was widespread amongst the Hilton Park faithful, with many hailing back to the days of Waywell's successful period in charge of RMI, where he turned the club around from a Unibond First Division outfit in to a club that was at one point knocking on the door of the Football League. Criticism from the directors and supporters eventually forced Waywell out, and he was followed not too long afterwards by chairman and main benefactor Chris Healey. It certainly rings true that you don't appreciate how good you have things until change takes that away from you.

As for the match, in what seemed to be an attempt to stay warm on a particularly chilly Lancashire night, both sides started brightly, with each of them having a couple of shots from distance to warm the goalkeeper's up, not to mention test how much the ball would skid off the turf when flying towards goal.

It was one of those shots from distance that forced the first goalscoring chance, when Chris Simm fired an excellent shot from just outside the box that the Worksop goalkeeper couldn't hold on to. Simm managed to latch on to the rebound and was able to get the ball across the face of goal, past the advancing goalkeeper to leave Ryan McDowell with a gilt-edged opportunity, only for the RMI midfielder to hit the crossbar from what seemed to be about two inches from the goal.

RMI forced five corners within a matter of a couple of minutes in an incredible period of pressure, but they somehow managed to fail to score, and that lack of a killer instinct was merely punished when the visitors took the lead virtually out of nothing. It was barely Worksop's first meaningful attack and it looked as though any likelihood of any danger had passed when RMI cleared their lines, only for it to reach Paul Dempsey, who avoided a couple of attempted challenges before smashing a terrific shot in to the net past a flat-footed John Lamb from what must've been all of thirty five yards out from goal just after the half hour mark.

As RMI looked for an equaliser they increased the pressure even more, and they looked to have built an advantage when Ben Ashmole latched on to an excellent through ball and would've been clean through on goal had it not been for a challenge from behind near the edge of the box by a Worksop player who was clearly the last line of defence before the goalkeeper. Because McDowell had been denied a clear goalscoring opportunity, the letter of the law illustrated that the Tigers defender should've been sent for an early bath, but the referee somehow ignored what was seemingly his only option and chose simply to book the Worksop defender, much to the disgust of RMI's players and supporters alike.

From then on, it was pretty plain to all that it wasn't going to be RMI's night, and the referee wasn't too keen on helping matters.

After conceding three late goals at Moor Green last week when Leigh could've quite easily grabbed a victory, RMI boss Andy Nelson must be completely perplexed at the lack of good luck that his team is getting, and that was merely compounded when the referee steadfastly refused to give a goal following a goalmouth scramble, despite the view from the Tommy Sale Stand suggesting that the ball had certainly crossed the line and had provided RMI with a deserved equaliser.

The start to the second half seemed to be much of the same with the visitors happy to shut up shop and defend their one goal lead and RMI creating goalscoring chances at will as they tried to make their way back in to the game.

Ian Taylor, who had a particularly impressive game on RMI's left flank forced a world-class save from the Worksop goalkeeper, with Taylor's goalbound shot being tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner kick, RMI thought they'd finally grabbed the equaliser they so desperately wanted, only for Neil Smith's header to be cleared off the line with the goalkeeper, for once, completely beaten.

Despite being a goal down at home, Nelson made a rather confusing substitution when he brought off a striker in the form of Ben Ashmole and replaced him with young defender Liam Coyne, who was out of the starting line-up for the first time this season.

Despite the decision being questioned on the terraces, the change very nearly paid off, with the towering Coyne crashing a header against the crossbar after yet another cross in to the box.

And if there was any doubt that fate had decided Worksop would take the points, RMI amazingly were denied again, with Worksop surviving a couple of penalty appeals before the ball was cleared off the line yet again, and Taylor hammering the ball against the underside of the crossbar from the rebound.

For the whole ninety minutes it was almost unanimous on the terraces that it was RMI's best performance of the season, and it will be asked for a long time to come just how RMI failed to win a game where they hit the woodwork no less than four times, had the ball cleared off the line three times and failed to get the rub of the green from a frustratingly inconsistent referee.

If RMI keep up performing like this evening, then surely it's only a matter of time before they turn their season around, hopefully starting with victories against local sides Lancaster and Hyde in the next two games!

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