The Rams finally got their season underway with a comprehensive victory over their high-flying North West Counties League opponents.
After a disappointing start to their league campaign, this victory was just what was needed to restore the confidence, and the team looked much more like the Ramsbottom side that has played so well in recent years.
Any early nerves were eased after just twelve minutes when Tom Brooks raced down the left wing before sliding home a cross which Lee Gaskell converted from close range.
Before that, Brooks had been denied by a goal-line clearance having been on the end of a flowing move involving Danny Warrender and Gaskell.
A Dean cross found Warrender in space, but he was unable to direct his header goalwards, before Grant Spencer wasted a good chance as he raced into the box but screwed his effort wide.
Another flowing move ended with a 25 yard drive from Spencer which just cleared the bar, then another impressive move involving debutant Owen Roberts and Dean saw Gaskell hit the bar from one yard out!
AFC Liverpool were riding their luck, as they faced an incessant tide of blue-shirted attacks.
Brooks and Dominic Smalley combined to set up another opportunity for Gaskell, who appeared to be in the thick of most of the Rams attacking moves.
Fellow striker, Jon Robinson, moved back to a midfield role, hit a screamer from 30 yards which Stephen Longrigg in the Liverpool goal did well to deal with, then Brooks had a good shout for a penalty as he was bowled over in the box, but the referee waved play on.
Little had been seen of the visitors’ attack, as the barrage continued. Gary Stopforth’s low 20 yarder had Longrigg scrambling at the post, whilst Smalley’s long cross found Gaskell whose audacious attempt at an overhead kick whistled inches over the bar.
As the visitors looked for respite, glad just to be one goal in arrears, the home side struck again three minutes into time added on at the end of the first half.
Smalley’s fine through ball found Dean and he confidently stroked the ball home to give the home side a 2-0 interval advantage which hardly reflected their superiority.
Within five minutes of the restart, it was all over.
Gaskell collected the ball in the box, before turning and firing a low drive into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The bombardment continued, as Gaskell twice in the space of two minutes could have notched his hat-trick. Smalley played him in on goal but his shot beat the keeper but also the far post, whilst seconds later Spencer put him through, but this time Longrigg was equal to the task.
The Rams eased off a little, allowing the visitors to finally foray forward, and John Lawless fired well wide from 20 yards before the Reds came closest to scoring when a low angled drive from Shaun Harris sailed inches wide of the far post. Phil Edghill lost the ball in midfield allowing Steven Jones an opportunity, but whilst he hit it well from 25 yards, Grant Shenton in the home goal did enough to take the sting out of the shot.
Shenton then produced a magnificent one handed save to deny Lawless, whilst the same player raced into the Rams area, but blasted over the bar.
Having taken a breather, the home side then regained control and finished the match off with two late goals.
On 78 minutes, the ball broke for the industrious Brooks, and he rounded the keeper before sliding home the fourth, then four minutes from time, young substitute Luke Bradbury scored his first goal for the club when he stabbed home a cross from Dean who made the most of a threaded pass from Gaskell.
The final piece of action saw Shenton deny the visitors a last gasp consolation with a magnificent double save, as the home side deservedly moved on to the next round of the FA cup, and a trip to Stockbridge Park steels, with a stirring performance that will do much to eradicate the memory of their poor start to the season.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Roberts(Pilkington 72mins), Stopforth(Edghill 72mins), Dawson,Robinson, Smalley, Spencer, Gaskell, Brooks(Bradbury 79mins), Dean. Subs not used: Hulme, Warburton, Drew, Toth
SAT.7th Sept Evo-Stik NPL Div. One North HOME RAMS v Northwich Victoria 3pm
Former non-league big boys, Northwich Victoria come to town on Saturday, having experienced a number of troublesome years. Having decided in 2006 to move out of their Drill Field ground, which staged football for over 130 years, and relocate to a new ground in the nearby village of Wincham (their former near town centre neighbours, Witton Albion had moved to the same village not many years before), the financial worries followed them and at the end of the 2011/12 season, the new ground was bought by the neighbouring chemical company, leaving the Vics homeless after just five years there.
An unpopular move to play home games at Stafford Rangers, 40 miles away, did not go down well with the Vics supporters. As a result, the club which previously had crowds nudging the 1,000 mark, saw attendances drop down to double figures. A series of relegations, some not as a result of on-field performances, has seen the club slip from the Conference (now Skrill Premier League) to Evo-Stik Division One North.
Those unhappy supporters, now faced with a journey to their new “home” ground in Flixton,( a mere 18 miles from Northwich!) have had enough, and have formed their own club 1874 Northwich, and this season started life in the NWCFL Division Two based at nearby Winsford United.
TUES 10th Sept Evo-Stik NPL Div. One North away Ossett Albion v RAMS 7.45pm
Ramsbottom United have been drawn at home to Atherton LR in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy.
The game will be played at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium on Tuesday 15th October with a 7.45pm kick-off.
As a result of this, the Evo-Stik League fixture due to be played that night, also at home to Lancaster City, has been brought forward a week, and will now be played on Tuesday 8th Octobner, again with a 7.45pm kick-off.
Phil Edghill’s red card against Padiham means that he will miss the three games against Ossett Albion (away), Stockbridge Park Steels(away) and Mossley (away).