The early season optimism, driven by the new management set-up and squad, that was so evident after the opening day victory, has soured a little after two consecutive defeats.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1 SHEFFIELD FC 2
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 20th August 2016
Attendance: 144

The loss to Kendal Town in the league was disappointing, but hopes were high that a home tie against Division One South outfit, Sheffield FC, would see the team back to victorious ways, and a healthy increase in the bank balance.

Alas, a disjointed performance and a poor game left the fans a little dejected, although still aware that it was “early days”.

On a wet and windy afternoon, chances were at a premium, but although the Rams edged it in terms of possession, it was the visitors who created the better opportunities.  In reality though, this was a match that soon faded from the memory.

Whilst the arrival of the experienced Paul Linwood after a prolonged attempt to gain International Clearance (from the Welsh FA), helped the defence, both of Sheffield’s goals were poorly conceded.

On 31 minutes, overlapping full-back Hafeez Hamzat was allowed acres of space to stride down towards the left hand corner flag, and his cross was deflected by the diminutive Reece Treasure, totally unmarked. past Chris Cheetham and into the far corner of the net.

Up until that point, the home side had done most of the running, but efforts from Linwood and Jay Hart had failed to dent the opponent’s goal, and Damien Magee almost doubled the Yorkshire sides lead on 36 minutes when he headed inches wide from a corner.

The Rams found a way back into the contest thanks to a fine strike from Alex Meaney, five minutes before the break.

He gathered the ball, centrally, around 30 yards from goal, and hammered in a fierce low drive that sailed under the diving body of keeper Chris Butt, to bring the scores level.

The second half was equally poor, with the first chance not falling until the 63rd minutes when dangerous Sheffield substitute Alec Denton sailed through the Rams defence, only to be halted by the legs of Cheetham.

Minutes later the visitors thought they had retaken the lead.  An almighty scramble in the area saw the ball hurtle towards the net, but with arms raised in anticipation of a raised flag from the referee’s assistant, the hope turned to disappointment when he called that the whole of the ball had not crossed the line before being hacked clear.

Sheffield did not have to wait long though before clinching the winning goal.  On 75 minutes a free-kick from the left caused confusion in the six-yard box, and Cheetham could only parry the high ball before attempting to punch it clear.  The punch however, merely ricocheted back off the head of the challenging Lee Cooksey, who watched on with delight as he was fortunate to claim the last touch.

Ramsbottom substitute Gareth Seddon had the only clear-cut chance for the home side with the minutes ticking down.  He raced past his marker, but Butt did enough to deny him from close range, allowing his Sheffield team-mates to progress to the next round and take with them the prize money of £1,925.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Cheetham, Dunroe (Botham 88mins), Atherton, Stott, Bayunu, Linwood, Crankshaw (Seddon 64mins), Meaney, Hart, Green, Taylor (Cliffe 77mins).  Subs not used: Dickinson, Hartley, Coulson, Hargreaves

ACTION PICTURES (courtesy and copyright of Frank Crook)

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