It took 210 minutes of keenly contested football and 20 penalties, all but the last one converted, to separate two teams that are much more evenly matches than the disparity in league positions might suggest.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2 ASHTON UNITED 2 (aet)
(Ashton United won 10-9 on penalties)
FA TROPHY FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 3 November 2015
In the end, it was Ashton United who got the lucky break in the penalty lottery to book a place in the next round and while the Rams will feel sore at the cruel nature of their elimination, they will gain much consolation in further evidence of strengthening performance and more importantly indomitable spirit.
In a mirror image of Saturday’s game in which the only difference was that it was the Rams who twice came from behind, neither team could seize control of the game. Adam Morning had been a threat for Ashton in the previous game and it was he again who set up their early lead taking advantage of some slack defending.
The Rams battled away undeterred and on 25 minutes a neat move down the right and sharp cross found David Kuba-Kuba free in the box. His emphatic low shot balanced up the score. Only a flying save from Grant Shenton kept things equal before the half-time whistle but on the restart Ashton again took advantage of a slow start from the Rams, Morning this time turning from provider to executioner with a measured shot past Shenton.
From there, the Rams tighetened up and with Poscha and Edmundson solid in the centre and Meaney the heartbeat behind every move. Just past the hour, it was all square again when Kuba-Kuba finding space and blasting home.
After that, neither team could fashion a clear opening and with wearying legs the match ground its way past 90 minutes and through extra time.
With the clock ticking towards 10.30pm and the cocoa going cold, it seemed that penalties would go on until the dawn – but someone always has to miss.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Grant Shenton (capt), Prince Hayward, Ben Woods (Jack Tuohy 63mins), Matthew Crothers, Marcus Poscha, George Edmundson, Shelton Payne, Alex Meaney, Michael Oates (Zach Hargreaves 111mins), David Kuba-Kuba, Sam Grimshaw. Subs not used: Phil Edghill, Jake Cliffe, Robbie Bromley.
Goals: David Kuba-Kuba (25mins & 66mins)
ASHTON UNITED: Paul Phillips, Mark Lees, Cavell Coo, Jason Gorton (capt), Joe Connor, Will Haining (Jeff King 79mins), Matthew Chadwick (Chris Sutherland 104mins), Gary Gee, Martin Pilkington (Aaron Burns 63mins), Chris Baguley, Adam Morning. Subs not used: Stephen Mason, Stephen Halford.
Goals: Matthew Chadwick (8mins), Adam Morning (47mins)
Referee: James Wilson (Stockport)
From there the Rams tightened up and with Poshka and Edmunson solid in the centre and Meaney the heartbeat behind every move. Just past the hour it was all square again Kuba- Kuba finding space an blasting home. After that neither team could fashion a clear opening and with wearying legs the match ground its way past 90 minutes and through extra time. With the clock ticking towards 10:30 and the cocoa going cold it seemed that penalties would go on until the dawn – but someone always as to miss.