Evo-Stik West Division
Tuesday 19th March 2019
DROYLSDEN 2 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 3
Report by Jon Haslam
After Saturdays four goal thriller at Chasetown the Rams were back in action on Tuesday night with with a trip to the wonderfully named Butchers Arms to take on a Droylsden outfit for the first of two meetings within a three week period as the season reaches its inevitable exciting conclusion.
Ramsbottom United began the contest showing three changes from the battling point from the weekend visit to Staffordshire with Luke Thompson, Eddie Moran and Ruben Jerome replacing Joel Bembo-Leto, Tom Schofield and Iyrwah Gooden.
The encounter began positively for the away side when with less than five on the watch the visitors made the ideal start and opened the scoring when a threaded through ball from Ruben Jerome picked out the perfectly timed run of Jamie Rainford who broke through the Droylsden offside trap before confidently placing a low shot past the onrushing Thompson to give the Rams the perfect start to an important looking fixture.
After taking such an early lead the confidence began to course through the side as Chris Willcocks men looked assured as they attempted to press home their advantage with a second goal with the Rams playing some slick and attractive football which forced the hosts onto the back foot in the opening twenty minutes.
Shortly after the midway point of the first period Droylsden began to get more of a foothold into the encounter with home forward Sefton Gonzales looking a threat for the Bloods, a quick home breakaway was halted by Kieran Lugsden which resulted in a yellow card for the combative midfielder in a contest which would quickly turn sour for the Lugsden twins.
With the home side beginning to look more of an attacking threat the contest took a potentially decisive twist on 26 minutes when the hosts number ten Oli Ford dispossessed Kelvin Lugsden before setting off towards the Rams penalty area and the retreating defender tangled with the speedy forward which referee Evans deemed to be a red card offence and for the second time game in succession Ramsbottom were down to ten men.
From the resultant free kick Rigby tested Sam Ashton but the visiting custodian was equal to the effort and palmed the stinging effort to safety, almost immediately the Bloods almost levelled when another set piece was launched into the Rams penalty area before being a couple of free headers gave Gonzales a chance but the angular strikers downward header was gathered by Ashton much to the relief of the visiting supporters.
After the sending off of Kelvin Lugsden it was the turn of Kieran to leave the match prematurely when injury ended the midfielders evening early and Tom Schofield entered the fray to play at right back with Ryan Ellison joining the returning Luke Thompson in the centre of defence.
With half an hour played the hosts restored parity when a strong run down the left hand side from Liam Caddick opened up the Rams rearguard before an astute pass found Oli Ford unmarked just inside the penalty area and the forwards well struck low effort flew past Ashton and the scores were level.
The remaining minutes of the opening period saw the visitors fashion a couple of presentable chances to regain the lead when the energetic Jamie Rother tested Thompson with a long range effort before good link up play between Jerome and Evangelinos saw the latter play in Eddie Moran but the schemers well struck effort was again blocked by the hosts number one as the depleted Rams looked to take the initiative in an well contested first half of football which ultimately ended all square at the interval.
With both sides unchanged the contest restarted and the first incident of note was a yellow card for Ruben Jerome for a late challenge just in front of the home bench.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Droylsden create a promising opening when another strong run from the lively Caddick set up the recently arrived substitute Burgess and the somewhat wayward effort not only cleared the crossbar but also the stand roof much to the astonishment of both sets of supporters.
Despite being at a numerical disadvantage Ramsbottom United continued to play their high tempo football and almost re-established the lead when a long ball over the Droylsden defence was seized upon by Jamie Rainford and with the in form striker through one on one the hosts were grateful to their goal keeper Thompson who came out on top as the former Clitheroe number one blocked the well struck effort and a glorious chance to retake the lead had gone begging.
However just prior to the hour mark the Rams retook the lead when good build up play down the left flank allowed raiding full back Tom Kennedy the time to send in a superb cross which picked out the run of the prolific Rainford and a well directed header beat Thompson in the home goal and the striker had his 15th goal in the colours of Ramsbottom United.
The contest continued to have an open feel to it and with the hosts pushing forward looking for an equaliser and utilising the width to positive effect the away side protected Sam Ashton to great effect with central pairing Luke Thompson and Ryan Ellison needing to be at their combative best to retain their sides narrow advantage whilst the threat on the break made it highly likely that the scoring was far from finished.
A flurry of yellow cards were issued by referee Evans before the away day specialists flexed their attacking muscles again when Ruben Jerome stung the palms of Thompson from the edge of the penalty box.
Then with a fraction less than fifteen minutes remaining the Rams surrendered their advantage when good build up play down the right wing allowed the Bloods leading scorer Gonzales a sight of goal and somehow the forwards low effort found its way past Ashton before trickling into the back of the net and after battling against the odds there was a feeling of deja vu after Chasetowns late leveller just days earlier.
Despite the setback the visitors responded in a predictably confident manner and a rasping effort from leading marksman Evangelinos forced Thompson to acrobatically tip over his crossbar showed that Chris Willcocks outfit were far from content to accept a point. Then with just over ten minutes to play Jason Carey replaced Ruben Jerome and almost made an immediate impact when a through ball almost set the attacker through on goal but resolute defending kept the score line all square.
As an enthralling match entered the final minutes both sides pushed forward looking to strike the decisive blow and when a through ball caught the Rams defence out and with Sam Ashton stranded outside of his penalty area a winning goal looked inevitable but the hosts spurned the opportunity to secure the three points when an effort from distance looked to be rolling towards an unguarded net but much to the relief of the away side the ball tickled narrowly wide of the target.
Then with only little over a minute of additional time remaining substitute Carey picked up the ball on the right hand side of the pitch before driving towards the Droylsden penalty box where a superbly drilled cross along the six yard line found the perfectly timed run of Evangelinos whose first time finish won the contest for the Rams with a low effort that fizzed past Thompson to set off wild celebrations for all connected with the Rams, shortly afterwards the final whistle blew and a vital three points had been plundered in difficult circumstances which demonstrated the squads undeniable togetherness.
Incidentally this was the fifteenth time in the last twenty two league games under the current management team that the Rams had scored two or more goals which shows the progress the team has made in the five months since the arrival of Chris Willcock.
As was the case on Saturday the Rams had to compete for a large amount of the match with one man less but again Chris Willcock continued his positive approach by leaving all three forward players on the field when plenty of other managers may have chosen to introduce an extra midfield player at the expense of an attacking one in the hope of stifling the opposition and credit should be given that the brave decision was instrumental in Ramsbottom United collecting a well deserved three points in their promotion push.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison, Moran, Thompson, Kelvin Lugsden, Jerome (Carey 79 mins), Rother, Rainford, Kieran Lugsden (Schofield 32 mins), Evangelinos
Unused Subs- Donaldson, Bembo-Leta, Latham (GK)