Leek managed to extend their long unbeaten run. But for long periods of the game a neutral observer would have found it difficult to distinguish the promotion chaser from a side struggling near the foot of the table.
Both of the Blues’ goals had a touch of fortune about them with Tim Grice and Lewis Short netting, The Leek goals provided a sandwich for a superb strike from Jack Grimshaw that had levelled the score before the break.
After some probing by both sides which saw Rammy striker Domaine Rouse fire over the bar after being fed by John Murphy it was Leek who broke the deadlock. It appeared that the visitors had not been punished for a poor kick from keeper Tom Stewart but an attempted ball out of defence was charged down and fell into Grice’s path. The striker made no mistake as his low drive went past the goalie and into the bottom corner.
If Stewart was partially at fault for the goal, then he made great amends shortly afterwards. Rob Stevenson wove his way into the box to deliver a low cross to the unmarked Will Saxon but the Leek player took too long to sort his feet out allowing Stewart to make a point-blank save.
There was even better work from Stewart before half-time. Saxon was upended in the area after being played in by Jessy Bavanganga but the Rammy keeper guessed the right way to deny Grice’s spot-kick with a full-length dive to the foot of his right-hand post.
By that time, Ramsbottom had already levelled. Ollie Harrison was dispossessed when trying to play the ball out of defence and the ball was worked out to Rouse who had been left unmarked. A lovely ball over the defenders saw former Newcastle man Grimshaw take the ball on his chest before firing a volley past Danny Roberts and into the net.
It almost became worse for the home side two minutes from the interval. Good work by Murphy forced Roberts into a save that saw the loose ball fall to Billy Hasler-Cregg and it took a goal line clearance from Harrison to keep the match level.
With their manager’s harsh words ringing in their ears, Leek had more control in the second period and, with the visiting midfield unable to provide the required service to Rouse and Murphy, the Blues were able to restrict Rammy’s attacking intentions.
However, Leek were struggling to make inroads against dogged defending backed up by a very safe keeper. All of the visitors’ efforts were undone thirteen minutes from time. Stewart again proved up to his task when he was able to parry a fierce effort from Ross Davidson. Unfortunately for him, the ball rebounded off the back of Luke Barlow and, in the ensuing melee, it was Short who was able to tap in at the back stick.
Following the game, a relieved but frustrated Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio and said:
“We just about got the job done. It was as poor as I can remember from the word go.
“Our reports said that Ramsbottom played a high line which they didn’t. We had worked on the three front players threatening the back and getting some little balls in behind. Our players did run behind but we kept on hitting long and high balls to them. Had anyone been doing a report on us they would say that Leek don’t play any football. They just get the ball forward. Which we wanted to do but not as direct as it turned out. I wanted us to work the ball and then play it behind. Whether I was at fault for giving the wrong instructions or whether they weren’t good enough to carry it out I don’t know.
“Their goal came from Harrison making a stupid decision to run the ball out. I don’t mind that if he looks for a blue shirt. But he doesn’t. He runs with his head down and takes people on. We lost the ball and when the cross came in we didn’t mark the man and the defenders stood looking and there was nobody to make the block.
“But to be fair so many of our players were below par. If there was somebody from Workington here, they will think they’ll only have to turn up next week to take the points.”