Evo-Stik West Division

Saturday 17th November 2018



Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United continued their gruelling series of away fixtures with a visit to North Wales on Saturday afternoon to take on Colwyn Bay in what was their seventh game on the road from their last eight matches played.

The trip to the Welsh coast saw the Rams make one enforced alteration to the team that gained a creditable draw in Tuesday nights FA Trophy match against Yaxley with Joel Bembo-Leto replacing the suspended Ryan Ellison at the heart of the visitors defence.

The early exchanges of the match saw both trade attempts at goal with Nialle Rodney testing Coughlin and Pritchard for the home side replying with a low shot which Sam Ashton gathered comfortably.

Colwyn Bay began the tussle in a fairly confident manner utilising the width provided by Pritchard and Barrigan as the hosts looked to start the game positively, indeed the former was on the receiving end of a strong tackle from Anthony Donaldson on ten minutes which resulted in the first yellow card of the match for the Rams midfielder.

Ramsbottom began to look more dangerous as the half wore on and perhaps had a legitimate shout for a penalty as Nic Evangelinos appeared to have been brought down in the penalty area but referee Rooney waived away the pleas of the visitors.

With almost twenty minutes played the home side fashioned the clearest chance to open the scoring when a strong burst through midfield from McCready was halted by a strong challenge from Luke Thompson towards the edge of the penalty area but the ball fell kindly to Pritchard who shot wide of the target when well placed.

Both sides were looking to utilise the excellent playing surface in what was an even opening half hour for the crowd of 248 at Llanelian Road, despite the contest having an end to end feel about it neither team could fashion what could be described as a clear cut opportunity with defences having the better of their attacking counterparts.

Nialle Rodney was looking lively for the Rams as he appeared to have the beating of his full back but any crosses that were played into the Colwyn Bay penalty box were being dealt without too much alarm.

The hosts were forced into a substitution with ten minutes of the first period remaining as injury curtailed McCreadys increasingly influential promptings for Bay as Alex Downes, a Ramsbottom loanee from earlier in the season replaced the stricken schemer.

With the interval only minutes away Colwyn Bay manufactured the last noteworthy attempt of the half when a deep free kick found the head of Woods but his headed effort was easily gathered by Sam Ashton and as the referee brought a halt to proceedings the encounter was goal less at the midway point despite lots of endeavour from both teams.

The second period was only minutes old when Jamie Rother became the second Rams player to pick a caution as a strong tackle on Pritchard incurred the referees wrath. Ramsbottom United began strongly after the restart and efforts from Evangelinos and a stinging long range attempt from Rother brought former Wrexham goalkeeper Coughlin into action as the away side looked to apply some pressure on the home defence.

As the contest edged towards the hour mark the Rams were taking control of the match with Tom Kennedy becoming more and more influential as the minutes ticked by and on more than one occasion delivered a number of sublime crosses from both open play and set pieces that caused panic in the hosts defence but sadly the visiting forwards couldn’t quite get on the end of.

The Rams made two substitutions in quick succession as firstly Bembo-Leto limped out the action on 61 minutes to be replaced in central defence by Khalil Osi-Efa before ex Colwyn Bay player Jamie Rainford took the place of the ever reliable and hard working Jamie Rother as Chris Willcock searched for the breakthrough.

With twenty minutes of the second half played the Rams did break the deadlock when, after a Kennedy corner had been cleared the ball found its way to Eddie Moran wide on the right touchline and the midfielder sent in a delicious cross which perfectly found the head of the onrushing Luke Thompson whose bullet header found the bottom corner of the net to give the fans favourite his third goal of the season.

The opening goal was really no more than the visitors deserved for their dominant second half showing and the lead could have been increased as Evangelinos and Rainford both had presentable efforts to add to the day trippers advantage.

Then with fifteen minutes remaining on the watch a potentially game changing incident occurred when a long goal kick from Bay goalkeeper caught out the Rams rearguard and with home striker Woods running through on goal and about to take a shot Luke Thompson brought down the forward and the referee had little choice but to issue a red card to the visitors goal scorer.

With a man advantage Colwyn Bay saw their opportunity to wrestle back the momentum and began to utilise their extra player cleverly putting the unfamiliar looking Rams defence under severe pressure, The first of a number of chances that fell to Colwyn Bay came on 81 minutes when ex Ram Downes forced an excellent save from Ashton before a succession of free kicks and corners gave the travelling supporters cause for concern as the slender lead was becoming increasingly at risk.

As the minutes ebbed away the hosts laid siege to Sam Ashtons goal, with some wayward finishing and heroic defending from the whole Ramsbottom side the hosts were becoming frustrated as the visitors repelled everything Colwyn Bay could throw at them.

With two of the four minutes of injury time signalled elapsed the Rams had one last scare to negotiate when a match winning double save from Sam Ashton denied Pritchard and Mendes in quick succession to ensure that after a resolute defensive display, ten men for the last 15 minutes and a reorganised defence it would be the visitors that would leave North Wales with all 3 points.

As the players and supporters celebrated a fine victory, the manner of the win encapsulates the growing confidence and team spirit this group of players and staff have generated in a short period of time.

After an unbeaten run of 10 matches in all competitions and a testing week which has seen the team travel over 500 miles in just a few days,the manner of this triumph must give all involved a huge amount of pride and confidence going into Tuesday nights FA Trophy replay against Yaxley at the Riverside.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran ,Thompson, Bembo-Leto (Osi-Efa 61 mins), Rodney, Rother (Rainford 64 mins) , Jerome, Donaldson, Evangelinos

Unused Subs- Rowe, Foulds, Hart

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