Bet Victor Northern Premier League North West Division
Saturday 26th October 2019
Clitheroe 2 Ramsbottom United 1
Report by Jon Haslam.
After a two week break from action Ramsbottom United made the short trip to Shawbridge to take on Clitheroe looking to respond to the disappointing exit to Colne in the FA Trophy a fortnight ago.
Despite heavy rainfall for the previous 24 hours a mid morning pitch inspection deemed the surface playable and after a busy week in the lead up to this derby encounter all three new additions to the Rams squad took their place in the starting line up with the hugely popular Luke Thompson making a welcome return at the heart of the defence whilst Ben Hampson and Reece Fishwick made their bows for Chris Willcocks outfit.
A point worthy of mention is that only two players can claim the ever present tag for Ramsbottom United this term, namely keeper Tom Stewart and skipper Tom Kennedy as the side looked to improve on their inconsistent start to the league campaign.
The contest began in fairly bright conditions but there was little goalmouth action to report in the opening minutes with neither side seriously threatening to break the deadlock, indeed the first noteworthy attempt arrived for Clitheroe just after the quarter hour mark when the lively Jacob Gregory had a well struck effort parried by visiting custodian Tom Stewart.
This stung the away side into action and five minutes later some incisive passing allowed debutant Fishwick to fire a 20 yard effort at goal which was repelled by home keeper King before the ball fell at the feet of Mason Fawns but the number ten attempts to grab his first goal for the club was denied by some frantic defending from the Clitheroe rearguard.
The Rams then had a promising period midway through the half in which wideman Iyrwah Gooden began to use his blistering pace to get in behind the home defence but sadly the end result often ended with the crosses either being blocked or claimed by home goalie King.
With almost half an hour of the contest played the home side opened the scoring when the increasingly dangerous Gregory picked up the ball wide on the right wing before gliding past his marker and sending a fine left footed curling effort past the despairing dive of Stewart and into the far corner of the net to register his first goal of the season as Ramsbottom again frustratingly failed to keep a clean sheet on their travels this season.
The goal appeared to give Clitheroe a lift and two efforts in quick succession threatened to double their advantage but some resolute defending from the new look Rams defence and wayward shooting kept the deficit at just one goal as the Rams looked to improve on their indifferent away form of late.
Ramsbottom United sought a response and with five minutes remaining until the break Iyrwah Gooden twice caused concern in the hosts defence, firstly receiving the ball out wide before driving forward and unleashing an effort which sadly flew wide of the target before outpacing his marker again but the winger couldn’t manage to get a shot away but offered hope that the visitors could find a leveller in what was the best period of attacking play for the visitors.
As the half time interval arrived the one moment of quality during an attritional forty five minutes separated the sides as Clitheroe looked to avenge the two goal loss at The Riverside just over six weeks ago.
Both teams returned from the break unchanged and Clitheroe almost doubled their advantage immediately when a free kick was played into the Rams penalty area but Tom Stewart was called into action as he turned a far post header around the post with another impressive save.
The Rams then restored parity when a long pass from Tom Kennedy found the run of Nic Evangelinos and the forward got the wrong side of the defender before controlling the ball and skipping around the onrushing home keeper King before rolling the ball into an unguarded net for his third strike in consecutive matches and seventh goal of the season in all competitions.
Shortly after the equaliser Luke Thompson received a yellow card for hindering a swift Clitheroe attack which led to a free kick which thankfully came to nothing for the home side.
Both sides then used their bench for the first time with Khalil Osi-Efa replacing Reece Fishwick whilst the home side saw Mulgrew take the place of Gray, sadly for the Rams the substitution for Clitheroe would ultimately be the deciding factor in a keenly fought Lancashire derby.
Just moments after the hour mark an incisive breakaway down the Clitheroe right wing saw the tricky Cummings make headway before playing the ball inside where a simple pass caught out the Rams defence and the recently arrived and unmarked substitute Mulgrew had the time to take a touch and send a right footed shot past Stewart to give the ex Bury youngster his first goal of the season barely five minutes after entering the fray.
In contrast to last season the Rams have found it more difficult on the road this term and the question would be asked whether the visitors could respond again in an effort to avoid a pre Halloween fright at Shawbridge.
Without what could be described as a recognised striker on the pitch the Rams where finding it difficult to generate any clear cut chances as Clitheroe looked to hit the ever desperate away side on the break with a pacey front line looking a threat.
With the clock hitting the 75 minutes mark Chris Willcock made a double alteration in an effort to force an equaliser with Josh Hmami and Teddy Perkins replacing Eddie Moran and Iyrwah Gooden with the a change in formation appearing to have three central defenders with Hampson and Kennedy asked to provide the width as wing backs.
The remainder of the game saw the visitors push forward searching for a leveller but with a lack of attacking options the Rams were feeling the absence of the suspended Ruben Jerome quite considerably despite the evident effort of Evangelinos and Fawns there appeared to be an obvious requirement of a focal point in attack.
Despite having the edge in regards to possession the remaining fifteen minutes or so saw the Clitheroe defence deal comfortably with what the Rams were throwing at the hosts and two excellent crosses from Teddy Perkins couldn’t be converted , the second of which on 89 minutes was arguably the closest the day trippers came to equalising for a second time but an Evangelinos header at the far post narrowly missed the target.
As the additional time was negotiated without too much trouble Clitheroe gained the three points to rise to second in the league standings as the hosts claimed their fourth consecutive league victory leaving the Rams looking for a solution to improve on four defeats in their last five outings in all competitions.
Ramsbottom United- Stewart, Hampson, Kennedy (Capt), Moran (Hmami 75 mins) ,Thompson, Murphy, Fishwick (Osi-Efa 59 mins), Rother, Gooden (Perkins 75 mins), Fawns, Evangelinos
Subs not used- Lugsden, Ellison.