Ramsbottom United made the short trip to Shawbridge on Tuesday evening to take on a Clitheroe team that had lost their last 3 matches.

Shawbridge, Clitheroe
Evo-Stik North Division
Tuesday 26 September 2017
Attendance: 246

The Rams made two changes from Saturdays win over Prescot with Tom Greaves making his debut and Greg Daniels returning from suspension at the expense of Rother and Omotola respectively.

Indeed it was Daniels who gave the visitors an early lead when he superbly brought down and controlled the ball on the edge of the area before his shot took a slight deflection off a home defender which wrong footed home keeper Thompson. The away side were dominating the match and deservedly increased their advantage on 16 minutes when a Jerome Wright cross from the left found the onrushing Luke Thompson who tapped home from 6 yards out.

The Rams were playing with an attacking style that caused the Clitheroe defence numerous problems with Kyle Brownhill and Wright combining superbly down the left hand side of the pitch a particular highlight. As the first quarter of the match passed the home side began to threaten the visitor’s goal more regularly with the wide players looking particularly dangerous.

The game could have been all but over when Heathcote strode forward from fullback before unleashing a superb shot which brought a fine low save from Thompson before the ball was cleared back to the Rams defender whose long range shot cannoned off the post much to the frustration of the Rams players and supporters.

Clitheroe could have been more than two goals behind at the 25 minute mark but reduced the deficit a minute later when the lively Willoughby wriggled past a couple of Ramsbottom challenges before cutting in from the right hand side and drilling a low shot past Fearon. The goal gave the home side a visible lift as the match continued to be an open affair with both teams looking threatening on the attack and vulnerable in defence.

As half time approached Greaves had a chance to mark his debut with a goal as a superb Brownhill cross found the Rams forward who headed over when well placed. As half time approached Brooks and Heathcote found their way into the referee’s notebook before Ben Richardson tried his luck with a 30 yard free kick which flew just over Thompsons crossbar.

The Rams had played some excellent attacking football creating numerous chances in the opening half and really should have been further in front than the 2-1 scoreline showed at the break.

The second period began in a similar pattern to the first with the Rams on top and forcing a number of early corners, one of which fell to Greaves who tested the home stopper with a low shot as the visitors looked to re-establish their two goal lead.

The game appeared to be getting more open as the hour mark approached with both sides exchanging shots at goal without seriously testing the oppositions goal keepers. Clitheroe then fashioned perhaps their best chance of the half when good work down the flank resulted in a cross which was headed over the bar, the Rams responded with Greaves flashing a header wide of the target from an outstanding Daniels cross as both sides looked to add to their goal tallies.

Max Hazeldine replaced Richardson just after the hour mark for the visitors as the home side continued to push for the equaliser.

Clitheroe would make the Rams pay for their profligacy when after a fine low save from Fearon the ball was crossed back into the Rams box where an unmarked Newby tapped in to equalise on 71 minutes. Amazingly the home side completed their comeback on 74 minutes when after a trip on the edge of the box Willougby drilled in a low free kick which found its way through the Ramsbottom defensive wall leaving Fearon helpless as the game had been turned completely on its head as the hosts lead 3-2.

The Rams almost restored parity within minutes but home keeper Thompson superbly denied Greaves twice in quick succession, firstly plunging down low to keep out a header before blocking the rebound as chances were being created by both teams in a thoroughly entertaining contest. Meaney and Omotola joined the fray replacing Brooks and Brownhill in the final changes for the Rams as Mark Fell sent on more attacking reinforcements in an attempt to gain a least a point from the match.

Clitheroe then looked to have completed the turnaround with 4 minutes remaining when a penalty was awarded for a trip by Roscoe and Willoughby duly dispatched the spot kick to complete his hat trick.

Remarkably this wasn’t the end of the scoring as with 5 minutes of injury time approaching a Wright free kick was headed in at the far post by Heathcote to reduce the arrears.

Unfortunately a succession of late corners for the visitors came without reward as the home side celebrated a 4-3 victory in a pulsating match which the Rams played their full part in but must be wondering how they contrived to lose.

In summary there were plenty of positives to take from the attacking performance but striking a balance between attack and defence away from home holds the key as to how far the Rams progress this season. Remarkably the final score was identical to the last meeting between the two sides at the HWRS in February and the 3rd consecutive game that Clitheroe has netted 4 goals against the Rams.

An understandably frustrated Mark Fell had the following to say after the final whistle.

“Fact is you can’t score 3 goals away from Home and get beat. Clitheroe didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves, other than the 2nd goal we’ve gifted them everything else. To say it’s frustrating is an understatement, we played some of our best attacking football of the season, only to let ourselves down at the other end of the pitch.”

Ramsbottom United: Fearon, Heathcote, Brownhill (Omotola 85mins), Stott, Thompson, Roscoe, Richardson (Hazeldine 62mins), Brooks (Meaney 75mins), Greaves, Daniels,Wright.  Subs not used:  Poscha, Williams

Saturday 30th September  The Evo-Stik North    RAMS v Bamber Bridge  3.00pm
Tuesday 3rd October                                         RAMS v Brighouse Town    7.45pm

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