Ramsbottom United earned an away point at West Didsbury and Chorlton on Good Friday in NWCFL Premier Division - but may have had all three but for a controversial decision by the assistant referee to deny what looked like a perfectly good goal.

With just 11 minutes to go, Matty Birchall fired in what would have been a match-winning goal, putting the Rams 3-1 up but, much to the dismay of all connected with the visitors, a raised flag saw the effort chalked off, for what was later explained as two Rammy players standing in front of the goalkeeper.

What difference that made was debatable as Birchall’s rocket looked perfectly acceptable to everyone else in the ground except the man in black.

However, luck and Ramsbottom United appear to be as far apart as they have always been this season, and not long afterwards, the home side scored again to frustrate the visitors.

For much of the game, the Rams had held the upper hand.

Kuda Chingwaro went close on seven minutes and later saw his goal-bound free-kick plucked from under the bar.

So, it was no surprise to see the away side take the lead on 37 minutes, when a poor clearance from Andy Jones in the home goal, fell at the feet of Birchall. He strode forward before firing home a low drive that took a deflection on the way in, to give Ramsbottom a slender half-time lead.

A similar deflected effort just 11 seconds into the second half saw the scores levelled.

Billy Matthews gathered the ball outside the penalty area and aimed for Chris Thompson’s left-hand side but a massive deflection swerved the ball inside the right-hand post to restore parity.

The visitors continued to look dangerous as they sought to regain the lead. Harvey Whyte raced down the right before putting over a cross that was met by Oumar Camara, but his effort was smothered.

Whyte then saw his shot clear the bar before the Rams struck again on 70 minutes.

Another ball into the box from the right, caused confusion before Chingwaro managed to get the final touch in a goalmouth scramble, to poke the ball home.

Then came the moment of controversy. What looked like a perfectly good goal from Birchall wrongly denied, and at that point it was obvious what would follow.

And follow it did, for six minutes later Darren McKnight was allowed space to move in from the right before firing home from 15 yards.

It could have been worse, for a minute into time added on, a ball over from the right was met five yards out, but Thompson produced a magnificent save from the resulting header to ensure that, while three points would have been deserved, at least a point was gained to halt the poor recent run.

Manager Steve Wilkes cut a frustrating figure at the end of the game and said: “A frustrating afternoon after being the much better side for long periods.

“The turning point is obviously our disallowed goal when 2-1 up. Not one single person in the ground claimed or thought it was offside, not even the West goalkeeper, but for some unknown reason the liner said we had a player in front of the keeper, which, as everyone who was in the ground, knows to be incorrect.

“Having said that, we have to defend the two goals we conceded much better than we did, especially conceding 11 seconds into the second half’“The last four performances have all shown us going in the right direction but ultimately we need to get the three points.”