BetVictor Northern Premier League North West Division
Saturday 7th March 2020
Kendal Town 1 Ramsbottom United 2
Report by Jon Haslam
After an enforced mid season break from action Ramsbottom United travelled to a blustery Cumbria on Saturday afternoon to take on a Kendal side sitting next to bottom of the league prior to kick off.
With the Rams last in action four weeks ago the side had being displaced at the top the table by Workington and the starting eleven showed a single change from the home win against Tadcaster on the 8th of February with Richie Baker replacing Daniel Naidole in the number 8 shirt.
The opening ten minutes brought a chance apiece with the first shot on target falling to the away team when Reuben Jerome had a low effort which brought a routine save from home stopper Bacon before Kendal replied with a free kick which found its way to Emil Jaaskelainen but the home strikers header flew over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards the hosts threatened again when a long throw was cleared to the edge of the penalty area before falling to Maguire who sent an effort over the crossbar but served notice that despite Kendals lowly league position the hosts would not make life easy for the promotion hopefuls from Lancashire.
In a lively opening quarter of an hour the Rams almost opened the scoring when a flicked header from Jerome found Iyrwah Gooden who slipped past his marker on the edge of the penalty area but the wide man’s effort bobbled agonisingly past the post with Bacon looking on helplessly.
With a strong wind blowing and a heavy surface preventing both teams from putting together any fluent football, it would be Kendal who almost struck first when the lively Maguire unleashed a shot from distance on twenty minutes which beat the diving Stewart but crashed against the upright to keep the score sheet blank at the quarter mark of an intriguing contest.
The next ten minutes could perhaps be best described as scrappy with a number of free kicks punctuating play as neither goalkeeper was called into serious action until fractionally before the thirty minute point when Evangelinos was fouled on the edge of the area which lead to skipper Tom Kennedy firing in a trademark free kick which Bacon was unable to hold onto and the rebound fell to goalscoring midfielder Josh Hmami but sadly the rather awkward effort bounced wide of the target as the Rams searched for a goal to settle the visitors down.
A look at Kendals home form prior to the match showed just two home successes in thirteen attempts for the Mintcakes and with the two sides almost a league apart in the standings this would maybe suggest that the visitors sitting in second place would be favourites to take the points but with the Rams struggling for fluency and match sharpness after a four week break from action but Kendal certainly gave as good as they got as the contest reached the half way point goal less.
The second period began with the Rams on the front foot with Reuben Jerome again being the first player to test the opposing keeper in the early moments of the half but again Bacon was up to the task but the day trippers started the half with positive intentions with manager Chris Willcocks half time words perhaps reverberating in their ears .
Almost immediately Kendal replied with some attacking threat of their own when a Ramsbottom corner was cleared and Jaaskelainen surged menacingly towards the visitors penalty area before cutting the ball back to a team mate but the attempt flew over the top of Tom Stewarts goal much to the frustration of the home outfit.
This appeared to give the Mintcakes an injection of confidence and the hosts again served notice of their attacking intentions when Jaaskelainen again broke free of the Rams rearguard before again cutting inside from the left wing but choosing this time to go for goal himself but the powerful right footed effort flew high and off target.
Then with almost fifteen minutes of a frantic half played the deadlock was broken and it was third time lucky for the hosts when the impressive home skipper Sloan slid an incisive pass through the visitors defence and the pacey Emil Jaaskelainen who, is youngest son of former Bolton and West Ham goalkeeper Jussi, latched onto the through ball before entering the penalty area before drilling a low angled shot which flew past Rams stopper Stewart to halt the run of three consecutive clean sheets for the away side and the hosts had the lead.
Despite falling behind Ramsbottom United responded positively and again Jerome was in the thick of the action when a fine cross from the right wing found the head of Nic Evanglinos but the header looped over the top of the goal before Kendal threatened to double their lead when Stewart had to be alert to deny Maguire a potentially decisive second goal for the hosts.
With Ramsbottom United boasting an impressive recent record of just a single defeat in their last sixteen league games and twenty minutes remaining the visiting side would need to produce something to gain three points that would keep table toppers Workington within reach.
As the clock ticked beyond the seventy minute mark Willcocks men struck back when a clever pass from Jerome connected with the run of Nic Evangelinos and the forward was adjudged to have been pulled back in the penalty box by a combination of home keeper Bacon and a retreating defender and referee Walsh pointed to the spot before issuing a yellow card to the Kendal number one.
The Rams leading scorer Evangelinos stepped up to convert the penalty by sending Bacon the wrong way and the scores were back level, the question on the lips of the travelling supporters was could their side go and on to win the match now?
Only moments after restoring parity Reuben Jerome found himself beyond the home defence and with the forward in good goalscoring form having registered in his last three outings the Yorkshiremans angled drive beat the diving Bacon but the keeper had a slice on luck when the ball thumped against the inside of the post before somehow managing to evade the onrushing visiting players.
As the pressure began to mount on the home goal Jerome again tested Bacon and despite the rebound falling to Josh Hmami the midfielder couldn’t force the ball home as a number of Kendal defenders threw their bodies in front of the ball to deny the away side the lead.
With the game finely poised and entering the final fifteen minutes the visitors made a double substitution with Ben Richardson replacing Richie Baker and the recently signed Nialle Rodney replacing Iyrwah Gooden as the Rams searched for a winning goal.
As the weather conditions worsened both sides pushed forward hoping to grab the next goal of the match and the hosts again threatened to regain the lead after a defensive mix up gave the home side a sight of goal but again some wayward shooting saved the Rams from falling behind for a second time.
Then, with only three minutes remaining an inswinging Kennedy corner almost caught out Bacon but the home keeper palmed the ball to safety before the resultant corner from the opposite side via the right boot of Evangelinos found the head of fans favourite Luke Thompson and the popular defenders downward header found the back of the net to notch his second goal of the season and put the Rams in front for the first time in the match.
The remaining minutes were negotiated fairly comfortably by the away side although a late free kick for Kendal caused hearts to flutter for the healthy contingent of away supporters as home goalkeeper Bacon trotted forward to potentially add to the confusion of an already congested penalty area but the set piece was collected confidently by Tom Stewart and the referees whistle thankfully brought an end to proceedings with Luke Thompson the popular match winner.
Ramsbottom United had claimed a valuable three points on the road without perhaps being anywhere near their best and plenty in the crowd could quite easily suggest with some justification that Kendal were very unfortunate to not claim a share of the spoils but hopefully such results will only add to the belief that the Rams can take this title race to the final game of the season as the finishing line starts to come into focus.
Ramsbottom United:- Stewart, Fishwick, Kennedy (Capt), Cooper, Thompson, Lugsden, Gooden (Rodney 78 mins) , Baker (Richardson 78 mins) , Jerome, Hmami, Evangelinos
Subs not used- Rother, Fawns, Jones
Frank Crook’s Photos