Evo-Stik West Division
Saturday 8th December 2018
KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC 0 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2
Report by Jon Haslam
Ramsbottom United made their second visit of the season to Kidsgrove the first being an August visit for an FA Cup tie and were looking for an immediate response from last weeks galling defeat to high flying Runcorn Linnets which brought to an end an unbeaten run of 13 matches for Chris Wilcocks’ charges.
The Rams made two changes to their starting eleven with both Kelvin Lugdsen and Jamie Rainford starting their first games for the club at the expense of the suspended Kyle Jacobs and Ruben Jerome respectively.
The contest began in awful conditions with the rain slanting down, despite this, the pitch appeared to be in excellent condition and both sides began positively with the visitors playing an attractive passing style through midfield on a slick surface with caused the Kidsgrove back line some early problems.
With almost ten minutes of the match completed the visitors created the first moment of real significance when a goal kick from Sam Ashton deceived the Kidsgrove defence and was pounced on by Jamie Rainford who surged into the penalty area before squaring the ball to Nialle Rodney who looked certain to open the scoring by side footing towards an empty net but last man Rhodes dashed back to block the goal bound effort and deny the away side the opening goal of the day.
The hosts, with only a single league victory at home this term from seven attempts as opposed to their away league form which sees the Grove unbeaten in seven fixtures away from their well appointed stadium looked lively on the break but wide man Nic Evangelinos brought the first notable save of the game from home stopper Kurasik after a good run and shot served notice of the Rams intent to get back to winning ways.
Indeed it took the hosts midway through the first period to produce their first strike at goal but full back Thompson’s effort was deflected for a corner which came to nothing but showed that even with a reshaped defence showing Ryan Ellison at right full back and Kelvin Lugsden slotting into central defence alongside the ridiculously consistent Luke Thompson the visitors were largely untroubled for the opening third of the encounter.
Then, after thirty goalless minutes had been played and the incessant rain had lessened a match defining five minutes altered the course of the contest when the Rams took control in decisive fashion.
Firstly on 32 Minutes a superb run by Nic Evangelinos cleverly sidestepping three Kidsgrove defenders on a run that took the winger into the penalty area before sending an effort towards goal which Kurasik could only parry into the path of Jamie Rainford who confidently fired home from close range to register his first goal for Ramsbottom United to give the away side a lead their early play had deserved.
No sooner had the players and supporters collective elation died down when the lead was doubled in spectacular fashion when that man Rainford received the ball tight to the touchline on the Rams left before cutting inside a couple of challenges and sending a rasping right footed effort from fully 30 yards curling past Kurasiks outstretched dive before nestling into the top corner of the net to give the away side a two goal advantage and in the process give the striker a double on his first start for the Rams and surely add this strike to the goal of the season competition at the conclusion of the campaign.
The Evo-Stik West Division club of the month for November were gaining confidence as the clock ticked towards half time with the impressive midfield trio of Moran, Donaldson and Rother continuing to have the upper hand on their direct opponents and the last noteworthy action of the half saw Rother send a low skimming shot from just outside the penalty area which looked to have Kurasik in trouble but the attempt narrowly missed the target as the Rams took a two goal advantage into the break.
The second period began in much the same way the first half finished with the visitors in the ascendancy, a good piece of attacking play again set up Rother for a shot at goal but his effort from the apron of the 18 yard box drew a fairly orthodox diving save from the Kidsgrove keeper before moments later a sumptuous through ball from Eddie Moran gave Jamie Rainford a chance of his hat trick as he went one on one with Kurasik but the effort missed the upright as the hosts could quite easily have found the match beyond them with over 40 minutes remaining.
Even though Kidsgrove were trailling, the Rams rearguard were doing an excellent job of protecting Sam Ashton who wasn’t called into any serious action until half way through the second period when a Baker cross from the right found substitute Saxon but his low drive was palmed to safety at his near post as the hosts searched for a route back into the contest.
Ramsbottom United were limiting the hosts to very few clear chances with Kelvin Lugsden looking assured on his first starting appearance for the visitors and the lead was almost increased further when Nic Evangelinos found himself with a sight of goal to put the result beyond any doubt but the winger was denied by the home goal keeper who was quickly off his line to block the clever effort and the score remained at 2-0 for the away side.
The substitutes bench was utilised for the first time for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining as Ruben Jerome replaced Nialle Rodney. In truth, both goal keepers had little to trouble them with long distance efforts the main route to goal although some good interplay around the area from the hosts between Malbon and Saxon gave the latter the opportunity to shoot at goal but the attempt barely extended Ashton.
The final ten minutes yielded a number of free kicks in promising position for Grove but again the Rams defence repelled what was thrown at them and despite not being at their fluent best from an attacking perspective in the second period the travellers from Lancashire were managing the second half very well quelling any momentum the hosts could muster whilst still offering a threat on the break themselves.
Two goal hero Jamie Rainford was replaced by Khalil Osi-Efa for the closing few minutes denying the striker the opportunity of a hat trick on his first start for the away side but the days work was done as the happy travellers saw out the five minutes of injury time to record a degree of retribution for Kidsgroves victory on penalties which knocked the Rams out of the FA Cup earlier in the campaign.
With the rain subsiding for the majority of the second half huge credit must be given to the Kidsgrove ground staff for preparing such an excellent surface which held up superbly especially given the huge amount of rain that had fallen in recent days which allowed this match to be completed when other games in the area were either called off or abandoned.
A point worthy of note is that the Rams have conceded only one goal away from The Riverside in the five league matches under Chris Willcock, a fourth consecutive league clean sheet and despite what was an untried back line demonstrates the strength and depth of the squad as the team look to begin another unbeaten run.
As proceedings came to a conclusion and three more points were added to the ever increasing tally meaning that Ramsbottom United have clocked up a hugely impressive run of ten away matches without defeat in all competitions and the league table showed the Rams had jumped a place to seventh as the team responded admirably to last weekends setback ahead of Saturdays intriguing looking FA Trophy First Round tie at Workington.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison, Moran ,Thompson, Lugsden, Rodney (Jerome 74 mins) ,Rother, Rainford (Osi-Efa 82 mins), Donaldson, Evangelinos
Unused Subs- Rowe, Hart, Foulds