Ramsbottom United made the trip to Atherton Collieries in the quarter final of the Integro League Cup on Thursday night with a team that showed just one alteration from the Colwyn Bay match some 48 hours earlier with Phil Dean starting in place of Chris Rushworth.
ATHERTON COLLIERIES 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0
Alder House, Atherton
Thursday 29 March 2018
Integro League Cup Quarter-Final
On a rainy evening it was the Rams that started the contest brightly and on 7 minutes and had a penalty shout turned away by referee Issawi as Jon Robinson went down from a challenge from Hartley.
With just 13 minutes played it was the hosts who took the lead when a right sided corner by Hardcastle found the head of the unmarked Lynch whose downward header was well saved by Sam Ashton only for Atherton forward Farrell to react the quickest to blast a shot into the net from close range.
The Rams were finding it difficult to create any clear cut chances against an Atherton side that had lost only one of their last fifteen outings, a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Ramsbottom United some nine days ago at the HWRS.
As the contest approached the 30 minute point neither goalkeeper had been seriously tested since the hosts had gone in front with the Rams finding it difficult to get support to lone frontman Robinson.
Ramsbottom United then flickered into life from an attacking point of view when a good move down the right flank from the pacey Luke Jordan gave Robinson a half chance but home keeper Hartley saved comfortably.
Atherton looked to double their advantage with around five minutes of the half to play as the impressive Hardcastle latched onto a long pass but mis-controlled as he was about to shoot.
Moments later a strong run and cross down the left wing from Peet found Hardcastle again at the far post but his well struck effort was kept out by the diving Ashton.
The Rams responded with perhaps their best piece of attacking play when Morecambe loanee Jordan picked up a Thompson pass on the left touchline before beating his man and firing a well-directed shot which Hartley in the Colls goal tipped over the crossbar.
With the half almost at an end it was Atherton who finished the stronger and Ashton was called into action again to gather a well struck Farrell free kick with the hosts going into the break deservedly a goal to the good.
As the second half began with both sides unchanged hopes were high amongst the Rams supporters in attendance that their favourites would rise to the occasion of a cup quarter final and continue their good run in this seasons competition.
The opening 20 minutes of the second period was an even affair with neither side really looking likely to add to the scoreline, with the Rams playing downhill numerous long passes frustratingly failed to find their target as the visitors found it difficult to generate any attacking momentum.
Mark Fell made his first substitution on 63 minutes as Jamie Rother gave way to Sam Madeley in an attempt to force an equaliser but the home sides lead continued to look largely unthreatened.
With time running out Atherton looked to keep possession of the ball and play on the counter attack whilst perhaps unsurprisingly as the Rams were forced to throw more men forward more space began to open up for the hosts.
Whilst the away side showed no lack of effort they just couldn’t find a way past a resolute Atherton defence to fashion a clear cut goalscoring opportunity as the Rams looked to equalise and contemplate a penalty shoot out.
The second and decisive goal did arrive with just three minutes of normal time remaining when Hardcastle picked up the ball and ran into the penalty box at the Rams defence before unleashing a shot which fizzed past Ashton to confirm victory for Atherton.
As the referee ended the contest Atherton deservedly progressed into the semi final of the League cup at their first attempt leaving the Rams to contemplate what might have been as they exited the competition in disappointing fashion.
It should be noted however that this was Ramsbottom Uniteds fourth game in nine days and with a small squad perhaps their efforts in the previous matches had caught up with them.
There is however no time for the Rams to dwell on the disappointment of this loss as they look to improve their league position with ten matches to play in just four weeks.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Brownhill, Dean, Stott, Thompson, Ellison, Rother (Madeley 63 mins), Brooks, Robinson (Rushworth 87 mins), Daniels, Jordan Subs not used Foulds,Wright,McGreavy
Saturday 31st March The Evo-Stik North RAMS v Mossley 3.00pm
Monday 2nd April “ Atherton Collieries v RAMS 3.00pm
Thursday 5th April “ RAMS v Ossett Albion 7.45pm
Saturday 7th April “ RAMS v Clitheroe 3.00pm