BetVictor Northern Premier League North West Division
Saturday 1st February 2020
Droylsden 0 Ramsbottom United 3
Report by Aaron Benson
Ramsbottom United retained top spot of the North West Premier Division as they overcame Droylsden 3-0 with goals from Josh Hmami, Reuben Jerome and Iyrwah Gooden.
The league leaders named an unchanged side from the eleven that beat Workington in their previous encounter and in what has become a trait of Chris Willcock’s side, they started the match firmly on the front foot. Straight from the referee’s whistle, they were inches away from the opening goal when Tom Kennedy’s expertly hit through ball found Iyrwah Gooden who hit the side netting. Holding the lion’s share of possession throughout the game, creating chances was never a struggle. Meeting a menacing cross from the left, Luke Thompson was unable to direct his header on target after finding himself unmarked in the six-yard area. Still searching for the lead, Josh Hmami saw a shot well taken by Bloods keeper Nathan Wolland. The driving wind that swirled around the Butchers Arms ground was proving to be the biggest test for Willcock’s men as they looked to break the deadlock.
Patience proved to be the greatest virtue for the Rams as they eventually took the lead in the 36th minute. Josh Hmami was the scorer, exchanging a series of passes with Nic Evangelinos before the former broke the net with a finish slotted past Wolland.
Thompson was unlucky not to double the Rams advantage just before the half time whistle. The centre back made a clever run to the back post but his header on goal lacked direction and dribbled wide. It meant the visitors had to settle for just a slender one-goal lead at the break.
Again troubling their opponents straight after half time, the scoreline was soon doubled at the start of the second period. Striker Jerome was in the right place at the right time taking advantage of a defensive slip up. The number nine held his nerve and smartly found the bottom left-hand corner with a calm finish.
Droylsden began to slowly grow into the game and Travis Boyles came the closest to beating Tom Stewart. Twisting and turning past several Rams defenders, his scuffed shot came to no avail with Stewart claiming the attempt. On the counter-attack, the league’s top goalscorer Evangelinos found himself through on goal yet he was denied as the ball deflected off target. In what was turning about to be an afternoon where Thompson was seeing more play in the attacking half of the pitch rather than the defensive, his long-distance attempt stung the palms of Wolland when on another occasion his shot could easily have burst the net.
The three points were wrapped up the 72nd minute with Gooden scoring the Rams third. An in-swinging corner was met by Gooden who nodded the ball home with a fine header from a Hmami flick-on. In stoppage time Stewart was called into action to deny the home side a consolation goal. Onside with only the keeper to beat, Boyles was denied by a reflex save from Stewart who preserved Ramsbottom’s three-goal lead and the eventual clean sheet.
Manager Willcock was more than satisfied with his side’s display as they retained the top spot over Workington.
‘I think the result ended up comfortable, the conditions in the first half played a really big part in terms of our team play. We had to force our way out in really strong conditions. We didn’t have our flowing, passing game that we have come to expect over the past half a dozen games’.
‘I thought we defended well in first half in conditions against a Droylsden side that wanted to get the ball down and play. In the second half, we played well, limiting them to just one counter-attack when the game became stretched. We looked more potent second half’.
The boss was complimentary towards the first goalscorer Hmami, the summer signing who grows In status and presence week on week. Since Josh (Hmami) has come back into the team his confidence has really shot up with the team playing well. The pressure is off him now and he is scoring goals frequently’.
‘There was two things I wanted today from the team talk. A clean sheet and three points and I got both. We can’t argue with that.