By pitchside reporter Andy Mason
Hythe Town 0 Ramsgate 1
A bright sunny day at the Reachfield stadium with a cooling breeze and not a cloud in the sky.
Rams won the coin toss and played towards the town end with the sun at their backs. The pitch certainly was not in the best of condition, resembling more of a park than a pitch with lumps and bumps, divots everywhere – not a surface for a great spectacle of football.
We were underway and the Rams were immediately on the attack with balls over the top of the towering defensive Hythe partnership of Fregene and Allan. Miller had a golden opportunity but was unable to get any power in his first effort, giving Phillips an easy save in the Hythe goal.
An early booking for Allan as he pulled Miller down and as last man should have seen red but as it was so early on the ref gave a yellow meaning he was restricted in what challenges he could make for the rest of the game.
That set the standard for the afternoon with Rams taking control and pressing, runs coming from everywhere, Wood controlling the middle of the park and making great runs through on goal.
The 22nd and Hythe made a rare foray forward and finally had a shot, winning a corner. The ball played into the box and the shot blasted straight at Bexon to save, the first time he’d touched the ball for anything other than the odd pass back.
The surface was playing its part and making life difficult to pass as the ball bobbled around but Paxman, Wood and Miller linked up very well considering, would Rams rue their missed opportunities? Chances for Miller, Rowland, Paxman and Wood were all blocked saved or cleared.
It took Rams until the 40th for Paxman to win the ball deep in the Hythe half and progress toward goal. He shot from all of 20 plus yards, Phillips with a despairing dive to his right, only for the ball to hit a divot just in front of his outstretched arm to lift the ball over and into the back of the Hythe net.
A well deserved half time lead for the Rams although they would feel it should have been greater.
Second half Rams continued where they left off in the first half, some excellent play especially down the right hand side as Aboagye linked up play with Miller and Rowland, taking the ball down to the goal line and crossing back into Miller who shot, forcing yet another good save from Phillips.
Rams continued to pressure, restricting Hythe to try and hit on the break but Coyle, McIntye and Fitchett at the back for the Rams were comfortable and glided across the awful surface to cut out the threats from Hythe.
With Rams in this sort of form on a good pitch they would have taken the Hythe side apart and could have easily scored a lot more and probably would have if it had not been for Phillips in the Hythe goal.
It was worrying for the fans as Rams were hanging on a little towards the end of the game. Hythe made three substitutions in the 80th in an attempt to claim a point, however Rams held firm even though defending deeply.
A well deserved three points for the Rams as they go into the New Year just ahead of Chatham Town at the top of the Isthmian South East league, setting up yet another first verses second table topping clash on the 2nd January.
Hythe: 1 Steve Phillips, 2Liam Smith, 3Marcus Goldsmith, 4Jack Steventon, 5Jason Fregene, 6Lex Allan , 7Ethan Smith, 8Marvin Hamilton, 9Johan Caney-Bryan, 10Frannie Collin, 11Shad Ngandu
Subs: 12Josh Stirman, 14Izzy Adebayo, 15Danny Taylor, 16Veron Miege, 17Michael Phillips
Ramsgate: 1 Josh Bexon, 2Jerald Aboagye, 3Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, 4Jamie Coyle, 9Kane Rowland , 12Jack Paxman, 10Ashley Miller, 11Nathan Wood, 17Ben Fitchett, 19Jake McIntyre, 20Tijan Jadama
Subs: 5Callum Emptage, 7Lauric Diakiesse, 8Lee Prescott, 15Daniel Haastrup, 16Oliver Bate
RFSA Ram of the Match: Jerald Aboagye
Ramsgate next in action
02Jan Home v Chatham Town 3pm
07Jan Away v Cray Valley PM 3pm
10Jan Away v Beckenham Town 7.45pm.