Report by Aaron Benson
Rams make most of ground swap as they take all three points on the road.
The Rams made three changes to the side that held Kidsgrove in the FA Cup last Saturday. Nathan Brown, Lee Gaskell and Jack Higgs came into the side replacing Alex Downes, Luke Jordan and the injured Dean Stott.
The Rams showed why life on the road has been tough in recent months as Atherton immediately had Rammy on the back foot.
The forward line for Atherton consisting of Ben Hardcastle, Adam Farrell and Connor Gaul gave Mark Fell’s side a few scares early on creating some dangerous chances that threatened Sam Ashton in the Rammy goal. The home side looked particularly dangerous early on, however failed to work the Rammy keeper properly into a save.
Right back Dave Sherlock was the leading problem for as Rammy as Atherton pressed for an opener, his overlapping runs and crosses lead to Farrell’s header over the bar whilst Hardcastle dictated play from the midfield with great affect.
It wasn’t till the 20th minute that the Rams had a shot on goal. A Lee Gaskell free kick flew straight into Atherton keeper Jack Cookson’s arms.
However it wasn’t long till the Rams had something to celebrate. Jack Higgs made the most of his return to the side, firing home from close range after a well-taken free kick from Jerome Wright landed at the feet of Higgs who put Rammy a goal ahead.
It took just five minutes more for Fell’s men to double their lead. Luke Thompson was brought down in the box giving Wright the opportunity to double the away sides lead from the spot. The penalty was one of perfection, chipped over Atherton keeper Jack Cookson as the Rams went into half time with what seemed a comfortable lead.
Half Time: Atherton Collieries 0-2 Ramsbottom United
The home side came straight out of the blocks in the second period, within minutes halving Rammy’s lead. From a free kick, Danny Lafferty hit the post before Hardcastle turned in the re-bound, reacting quicker than any Rammy player to the ball smashing home, opening up the possibility of a dramatic second half comeback.
The Rams survived the second half pressure that Atherton provided, the solid back four of Henry, Dean, Ellison and Thompson holding out superbly as Atherton gained momentum from the early second half goal.
However it was Ramsbottom who scored the winning goal in the most bizzare of ways. Winger Nathan Brown’s free kick flew past everyone before beating Cookson in the Atherton goal. Only the tricky winger could tell us whether it was a cross or a shot, however sent the Rams on their way to a much-valued three points.
The home side threw caution to the wind in the final stages. Vincent Bailey’s shot was well saved by Ashton whilst at the other end Rammy sub Ben Deegan could have rubbed salt into Atherton’s wounds but could only fire over the bar.
Rammy held out for a well earned three points. Boss Mark Fell was particularly pleased. ‘You want to get off to a flying start, I though the lads were excellent, we had enough quality in the team to create those opportunities.
‘From my perspective we were resililant when we needed to be but we still had the quality to score the goals and see the game out’.
FT: Atherton Collieries 1-3 Ramsbottom United
Teams: Ramsbottom United- Ashton, Dean, Henry, Thompson, Ellison, Brooks (Downes 87′), Brown, Rother, Gaskell (Deegan 73′), Higgs (Jordan 65′), Wright
Unused subs: Hart, Robertson
Attendance – 288