This was one of those games where to blink would mean missing something either on the pitch or off it. Nine yellow and three red cards made for an entertaining if controversial afternoon, with much of the ire directed at the match officials, writes Tony Cunningham.

A disastrous start by the Rams was almost matched by an inspired finish, but in the end a three-goal deficit proved just too much to turn around.

The home side was hampered before kick-off with six first team regulars side-lined through either injury or suspension, and the opening fifteen minutes highlighted their lack of presence.

Kamikaze defending saw two early goals conceded followed by a red card showed to coach Scott Campbell. The game at that point was thirteen minutes old!

As early as the third minute, the visitors took the lead when a left-wing corner was glanced in by the unmarked Adam Dale.

Worse was to follow just seven minutes later when a throw-in from the right landed at the feet of Cory Knight 15 yards from goal. Despite facing away from the net, he was allowed time to swivel and fire home with the home defenders looking at one another wondering what had hit them.

The frustration of the early capitulation then reached the home dug-out, and after what seemed like a running dispute between the Rams management and the assistant referee, a raised flag saw the match referee called over and a red card issued to coach Campbell for derogatory remarks aimed at the liner.

Once the home side had regained their composure, they attempted to get a foothold back into the game but were thwarted as first Ryan Lockett’s fine effort was pushed away for a corner by the Chadderton keeper, before Luke Sephton’s close-range header was cleared off the line.

A Harvey Whyte long-range free-kick bounced back off the post, before the visitors Sean Kgwakgwa received the second red of the afternoon for pulling back a Rammy forward about to enter the penalty area. It seemed harsh, as other defenders were in the vicinity, but from the ensuing free-kick, Harvey Hayhurst’s excellent effort hit the underside of the bar before a follow-up header was grabbed by the keeper.

The teams went in at half-time with the feeling that it was not going to be the Rams day.

Little changed as the second half began.

A lovely move down the right wing saw Hayhurst feed Whyte but his attempt cleared the bar, then another teasing ball from the right evaded the on-rushing Sephton inches from the line.

On 64 minutes, as if to confirm the Rams bad fortune, a right-wing corner skimmed across the home side’s goal only to be bundled in at the far post by Llyton Chapman to give the away side a rather lop-sided 3-0 score-line.

All was seemingly lost at that point but within ten minutes the Rams had hauled the deficit back to just one goal, courtesy of Kuda Chingwaro.

A left-wing cross was converted by the Rams winger on 69 minutes, and barely had the cheers died down then he converted an excellent right wing cross from Tom Walker.

Suddenly the whole momentum changed, and for the last twenty minutes, the Rams were virtually camped inside the Chadderton half.

Sephton again came close with a header, going inches wide, but despite all the pressure, the away side held on, whilst being down to nine men for the last few minutes, as defender Robert Flynn received a second yellow card for time-wasting.

Controversy spilled over at the end of the game, and Rams manager Steve Wilkes added to the card count with a yellow after a heated discussion with the referee.

A game that certainly offered value for money, but despite their best efforts, the below-strength Rams came away with nothing.

Manager Steve Wilkes expressed his disappointment after the game.

He said: “First of all congratulations to Chadderton for showing how to fight and win a football match. I’m so disappointed, again, in how we defended. All 3 goals conceded from set pieces, just like the second goal at Glossop. When are we going to learn how to defend as a team?

“Far too many individual errors at the moment. I’m not making the excuse that we’ve got 5/6 first team regulars out injured as the ones that come in should have the mindset to keep them out. My job is to put a winning team on the pitch and for the first time since the start of the season we have a free week.

“Hopefully next Saturday we might have some new faces on the pitch.

“A massive thanks to the fans who clapped us off and have stuck by us brilliantly this season.”