It is very sad to see how far many of the less attractive aspects of football at the senior level, both on and off the pitch, are creeping into the game at semi-professional level.  One example is a level disinterest almost amounting to disdain which clubs are showing to cup competitions by fielding below strength teams in front of low crowds.


The Integro Doodson Sport Cup Round 1
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Tuesday 1st December 2015
Attendance: 104

That was the fare put on offer at the HWRS on Tuesday night with Warrington putting out a virtual reserve team against a youthful Rams squad with several changes.  The Rams though have the justification of needing to blood new recruits and give game time to players returning from suspension and injury.

45 minutes of scintillating football from the Rams team was enough to see off a Warrington outfit who were behind from the opening moments were content to participate rather than compete.  In a first half of almost constant one-way traffic, the visitors had no answer to a dominating display from Jake Cliffe and Matt Crothers in midfield and the movement and guile of Jordan Bove.  Aaron Smith, up front was supported by new signing Kayde Coppin and John Pritchard out wide.  At the other end, the back four were assured with Nia Bayunu on debut providing reassuring solidity.

It took the Rams just 38 seconds to get on the score sheet – Bove combining well with Pritchard to send him clear on the left whose pinpoint cross was met emphatically at the far post by Smith.  Bove and Smith were pulling off their markers this way and that, creating space exploited in particular by Coppin displaying an instant first touch and bringing the midfield due into the space created.  Bove sent clear by Smith was unlucky to see his shot pass just wide of the goal although Karl Wills had done well to narrow the angle.  And then, with the Warrington defenders expecting a ball into the near post, Coppin instead set up Crothers just outside the box but his shot had a touch too much exuberance and cleared the bar.

After that, the Rams were able to open up Warrington at will but were not clinical enough in their finishing to further test Wills until, with half-time approaching, Bove spun away from his marker on the edge of the box and sent in a low shot which the keeper could only push wide.  Smith was onto the loose ball in a flash and steered home from a seemingly impossible angle.

Warrington, bolstered by good use of the bench, tightened up after the break and the game descended into tedium.  The Rams were unable to regain momentum and spurned the few clear chances that came their way by over elaborating with a pass too far when clear shooting opportunities were on offer.  Where the Warrington substitutions brought about a discernible improvement at least to the extent of staunching the flood of Rams attacks, those from the home team brought zero benefit apart from saving the legs for Saturday of those brought off.

It was a surprise when in a very even tempered match, Warrington were reduced to 10 men after 80 minutes when Nathan Burke retaliated after an innocuous challenge.  The Rams did not look like taking advantage of their numerical superiority as the game petered out into a comfortable and promising win for the Rams.

Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (capt), Charlie Doyle, Ben Woods, Jake Cliffe, Nia Bayunu, Liam Gibson, Kayde Coppin, Matthew Crothers (Phil Edghill 62mins), Jordan Bove (Michael Oates 45mins), Aaron Smith (Luke Heron 74mins), John Pritchard.  Subs not used: Robbie Bromley, Marcus Poscha.
Goals: Aaron Smith (38 seconds and 35 mins)
Yellow cards: Shenton, Gibson

Warrington Town: Karl Wills, Liam Turner, Danny Hughes (Alexander McQuade 45mins), Jack Richards, Craig Robinson (capt), Niall Ford, Chris Lester, Jack Rudge (Nathan Burke 20mins), Ben Wharton (Rhys Bowers 54mins), Ben Collins, Chris Gahgan.  Subs not used: Alastair Brown, Josh Hayes.
Red card: Burke

Referee: Alan Clayton (Hyde)

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