Ramsbottom United finally returned to action after an enforced three and a half week break and give title contenders Wythenshawe a run for their money before eventually losing 2-1, writes Tony Cunningham.

Unsurprisingly, a little rusty after such a weather-induced break, a return to action could hardly have been more testing than to welcome championship hopefuls Wythenshawe, at the third time of asking, opponents who had declared their intentions back in July when the Rams suffered a disappointing reintroduction to the NWCFL on the back of a 0-4 score-line.

Steve Wilkes’ side suffered a blow inside the first few minutes after winger Luke Jackson was replaced by Finley Bartram. Jackson picked up a knock and couldn’t continue.

At that point, the home side were already a goal down when, on14 minutes, former Rams player Darryl Mason nodded home from a Bryan Ly corner.

The Rams responded well with Rick Whittingham seeing his effort from distance flash wide of the right-hand post.

Competing with their high-flying visitors, the Rams pulled level on 27 minutes.

After some good work down the left wing from Maine Walder, Luke Sephton was able to round the keeper and slot home to give hope for the side.

The half-time break arrived with both sides equal in both result and performance, but the away side indicated their intentions from the restart.

Within a couple of minutes they had the ball in the net, only to be thwarted by the sight of the assistant’s flag.

The disappointment did not last long, for within another couple of minutes they notched what turned out to be the winning goal.

A mix-up in the home defence allowed Kaled Parkinson the opportunity to slot past Ryan Hamer and they were back in the ascendancy.

Wythenshawe were then reduced to 10 men after an off-the-ball incident what spotted by the assistant who informed the referee. He immediately produced the red card to dismiss Mason.

Any hopes the Rams had of regaining the advantage was well and truly held at bay as the visiting defence stood tall allowing the away side to look the more likely to add to their lead.

The closest the Rams came to parity was an effort from Sephton that was snuffed out, and the title hopefuls returned to south Manchester with all three points from a well-contested affair.

After the long-enforced break, the Rams are now well and truly back with 14 more games to play between now and April 20.

Manager Steve Wilkes was honest in his appraisal: “Disappointed with the result and second half performance.

“I’m not buying into the fact that we hadn’t played for three weeks. I’m more disappointed in the way the players approached the second half.

“At half-time they were given specific instructions what to do and more importantly what not to do, yet within ten seconds of the restart they do what we’d asked them not to.

“First half I thought we probably just edged it. Losing young Luke so early to a tackle that went unpunished was a big blow as the kid has been flying.

“We have to dust ourselves down and go again on Saturday at home to AFC Liverpool.”