Evo-Stik West Division
Saturday 16th March 2019
CHASETOWN 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2
Report by Jon Haslam
Ramsbottom United headed for Staffordshire on Saturday afternoon with three important play off points on offer as a number of their promotion rivals were not in action due to the inclement weather.
Hosts Chasetown were the opponents in Chris Willcocks first match in charge for the Rams back in early October at The Riverside which ended with the honours even as the teams shared four goals.
As the match kicked in blustery conditions the visitors showed two changes from the victory seven days ago with Iyrwah Gooden and Jamie Rother replacing Jason Carey and Kyle Jacobs respectively on their first ever visit to Chasetown..
The first ten minutes were fairly even with both sides looking threatening down the flanks but neither goalkeeper had cause for concern in the opening exchanges.
Then,with a dozen minutes played a potentially match changing incident occurred when an aerial challenge on the half way line involving right full back Ryan Ellison ended with left back Callum Cockerill-Mollet writhing in agony and referee Brown decreed that that the incident deserved a red card and the Rams were down to ten men for the remainder of the contest.
Despite being a man light the visitors reorganised with Kieran Lugsden filling in at right back and it was the day trippers who almost broke the deadlock when Nic Evangelinos sent in a cross from the left flank which married up perfectly with the run of Tom Schofield and a well directed header from 8 yards out brought a fine finger tipped save from Pond in the home goal.
Minutes later the Rams created another opportunity when a raid down the right hand gave Jamie Rainford the chance to find the head of the marauding Jamie Rother but again Pond plunged down low to deny the visitors the opener.
With twenty goalless minutes played Chasetown threatened to open the scoring but a wayward attempt sailed wide of the target after good work down the left flank from the home side caused the first real moment of concern for the visitors.
Then midway through the half disaster struck for Ramsbottom United when a long ball forward was dealt with by Joel Bembo-Leto who played the ball backwards towards keeper Sam Ashton but as home forward Tom Hill chased down the back pass and as the Rams stopper stumbled on the edge of his own penalty area this left the Chasetown front man with a clear run on goal and with great delight rolled the ball into a gaping net to put the hosts a goal to the good.
A point worthy of mention is that the strike from Chasetown was the first time Chris Willcocks outfit had been behind in an away league game since the Widnes fixture back on the 9th October.
The Rams quickly made an adjustment with recognised full back Kyle Jacobs entering the fray at the expense of the unfortunate Tom Schofield with Kieran Lugsden returning to his more familiar midfield role.
Despite trailing and being down to ten men the visitors continued to create some goal scoring chances with Jamie Rother sending a well placed cross onto the head of Iyrwah Gooden but The Scholars shot stopper Pond was again called into action to preserve the hosts advantage.
Chasetown almost doubled their goal tally around the half hour point when a squall of pressure resulted in Tom Kennedy clearing a goal bound shot off the line and when the ball was cleared to the edge of the penalty area a well struck shot flew wide of the target as the home side looked to continue their recent good run of three consecutive victories.
Parity was almost restored ten minutes before the interval when a Tom Kennedy free kick was headed down to an unmarked Jamie Rainford whose well executed finish appeared to have put the away side on level terms but the sight of the linesman’s flag being held aloft brought the celebrations to an abrupt end which had the travelling Rams supporters wondering if this was beginning to look like “one of those days”. Even the elements appeared to take a turn for the worst when the windy conditions gave way to driving rain which did little to improve the mood of the loyal band of supporters from Lancashire.
As regular viewers of Ramsbottom United games will testify to this squad is made of stern stuff and despite events appearing to conspire against them the equaliser deservedly arrived with just four minutes of the half remaining when Iyrwah Gooden found himself behind his opposing full back before sending in a pinpoint cross from the right hand side along the six yard box to the unmarked goal poacher Jamie Rainford who gleefully tapped into an unguarded net to register his 13th goal in thirteen starts and again prove what an excellent acquisition the forward has been for the Rams.
As the half time whistle sounded an incident packed first half concluded with honours even and hopes were high that the second period would provide the same level of entertainment for the hardy souls braving the miserable weather at the picturesque Scholars Ground Stadium.
With both teams unchanged the second half began at a frantic pace with the hosts looking to take advantage of the extra player by utilising the wings and attempting to stretch the play at every opportunity whilst the day trippers looked to play positively when any attacking opportunities presented themselves.
As the rain continued to fall at an ever increasing rate neither side seriously tested the opposing keeper until around the hour mark when a break by the Rams found Nic Evangelinos tight to the goal line and as the ball was smuggled to Iyrwah Gooden the wide man was unceremoniously scythed down from behind by home skipper Wynter and referee Brown had no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
After a pause in proceedings as the bruised Gooden received some treatment up stepped leading scorer Nic Evangelinos to send the home keeper Pond the wrong way with a well struck effort from twelve yards that signalled the 50th league goal scored under the stewardship of manager Chris Willcock and the ten men had shown unbelievable tenacity to come from a goal down with one player less to take the lead as the Rams sought their tenth consecutive away league win.
Sadly Gooden could not shake off the injury and had to be replaced by Ruben Jerome as Chris Willcock continued with the now familiar positive approach which has seen the away day specialists unbeaten away from the Riverside in league fixtures since mid September.
Chasetown responded with a double substitution of their own as they looked for a way back into the contest although excellent work down the left flank gave Tom Kennedy the chance to find the head of the recently arrived substitute Ruben Jerome but the strikers header was comfortably gathered by the hosts stopper Pond.
With time ebbing away the remaining quarter of an hour consisted of the home side pushing forward with ever increasing desperation which gave the Rams the chance to counter attack as Chasetown committed more and more players forward in search of an equalising goal.
As the conditions worsened and the pitch became heavier by the minute the hosts continued to attack the Rams goal but some resolute defending and wayward finishing kept the away side in front and most neutral observers may have found it difficult to believe that the visitors had been playing for more than 75 minutes with ten men.
The hosts created and missed a series of chances with the ever present Sam Ashton forced to pull off a number of fine saves, one in particular stands out with ten minutes remaining when a 20 yard effort from Langston brought a flying save from the Rams keeper.
The hosts attacking momentum lead to a flurry of corners which kept the visiting defence under duress whilst only desperate defending at tge other end of the field prevented the Rams from adding to their tally when both Jerome and Rainford almost fashioned a match clinching third goal for the away team on a breakaway.
Unfortunately and with only a minute of the ninety remaining Chasetowns pressure finally found a way through the visitors rearguard and broke Ramsbottom United hearts when despite their a number of attempts the Rams couldn’t clear the danger and the hosts took advantage by keeping the ball alive in and around the penalty area before the ball fell kindly to the home sides central defender Askey and his low drive flew past Ashton and into the corner of the goal to equalise late in the game.
Both sides pushed forward looking for the decisive fifth goal but without success and as an entertaining encounter came to an end the scoreline from the meeting earlier in the season had been repeated.
The Rams took their unbeaten away league matches to an impressive twelve and again showed their team spirit and fortitude to come away with a well earned point in testing circumstances whilst perhaps feeling slightly frustrated that their trip back up the M6 could easily have garnered a further two points in the search for one of the promotion berths come the end of the season.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison (Sent off 12 minutes), Rother, Bembo-Leto, Kelvin Lugsden,, Gooden (Jerome 64 mins), Schofield (Jacobs 27 mins), Rainford, Kieran Lugsden, Evangelinos
Unused Subs- Moran,Donaldson Carey