RAMSBOTTOM kept up the pressure at the top of the table in what is turning out to be a fascinating chase for the NWCL Premier Division title.

A victory over one of their rivals on a bitterly cold afternoon was earned after a battling 90 minutes against a physical Runcorn side on a rutted and slippy surface.

But the Rams could not have wished for a better start when they took the lead after just six minutes.

Lee Gaskell nodded the ball into the path of Jordan Hulme, who controlled the ball before planting a low drive beyond the keeper.

Dominic Smalley nearly doubled the visitors’ lead but chipped just wide after good work from Joel Pilkington.

At the other end, the home side were inches away from grabbing an equaliser when Mark Keddie cracked a shot against the woodwork.

The game was swinging end to end, and the visitors were grateful to Grant Shenton in goal as he smartly dropped on to a dangerous cross to prevent the simplest of tap-ins, before he watched as Dalton’s header from a right wing cross sailed over the top.

The Rams doubled their lead three minutes after the restart when Andy Dawson rose to head home at the far post from a free kick.

The hosts were back in it on the hour when Town substitute Jason Carey fired a low angled drive past Shenton.

The goalkeeper then made a great save to deny the home side an equaliser.

In a game lacking in fluency, the best move of the match almost saw the Rams notch a third.

Fine running and passing from Mark Drew found Hulme, who laid it into the path of Mickey Morrison.

His low drive from the left-hand side went agonisingly wide of the far post, and with just four minutes to go that would have sealed the points.

But a third goal did arrive when substitute Jon Robinson, back after a toe injury, laid on the perfect through ball for Rob Grimes.

Grimes lashed the ball past Karl Wills from 10 yards to clinch all three points – and a booking for removing his shirt in celebration.

The three points keeps the Rams just one point behind leaders Bootle.