Evo-Stik League West Division

Saturday 15th September 2018



Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United made the journey to the County of Staffordshire on Saturday afternoon to take on Leek Town at the very impressive Harrison Park with both sides positioned in the top ten of the early league standings prior to kick off.

The visitors showed a single alteration from the midweek victory over Kendal with Jack Higgs replacing Jamie Rother in the Rams starting eleven.

It was the home outfit that began the contest in the ascendancy and with just over a minute on the clock Leek fired a fierce shot into the side netting which was an early example of what the away side would face throughout a chastening afternoon for Mark Fell’s charges.

Whilst the early exchanges were fairly even, it would be the Rams that fashioned the best chance of the opening quarter of an hour when a fine run and cross down the left by the raiding Dean found the head of Gaskell but the strikers header was repelled by home keeper Chapman.

As so happens in football when one side misses a presentable goal scoring opportunity the other team goes up the other end and take their chance, if a further example was needed Leek provided it and opened the scoring on 16 minutes when a long ball caught the Ramsbottom defence appealing in vain for offside leaving Stevenson one on one with Sam Ashton before lifting the ball over the advancing keeper to give the hosts a lead they wouldn’t ultimately surrender.

Sadly the hosts would double their advantage only two minutes after breaking the deadlock when Trickett Smith picked the ball up in the left channel some 30 yards away from goal before setting off on a mazy run evading some flimsy challenges before calming finishing through Ashton’s legs from just inside the penalty area to give Leek a healthy advantage with less than 20 minutes played.

As the half progressed the Rams struggles continued as they found it difficult to put together any real cohesive passing going forward whilst looking unusually hesitant in defence with the home side looking the much more confidence team after their positive start to the match.

Ramsbottom United flickered into life just after the first third of the encounter when Nathan Brown fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area after a long throw had been cleared to the Chester loanee but again Chapman pulled off a spectacular save to tip the effort over the crossbar.

As the interval loomed both sides would exchange attempts at goal with Leeks forward line firing a couple of efforts narrowly wide of Ashtons upright whilst Brown fired narrowly over the angle of post and bar as the visitors looked to try and reduce the arrears before the half way point did arrive with the hosts enjoying a deserved two goal advantage.

The second period began in similar fashion to how the first half ended with the lively Brown again firing an effort at goal but only finding the side netting before Leek played some incisive football down their left hand channel resulting in an effort from the edge of the penalty area which sailed narrowly over the crossbar signalling the hosts intention to increase their goals tally for the afternoon.

Ramsbottom United generated perhaps their most concerted amount of pressure on the home goal when a flurry of corners were tantalisingly delivered from Higgs but no visiting player could take advantage of five consecutive set pieces.

With almost an hour showing on the clock the Rams made a double substitution with Higgs and Stott making way for Rother and Brooks as the away side looked to try and wrestle some possession back from an increasingly confident looking Leek side.

Only minutes after the changes had been made the hosts increased their lead further and effectively but the result beyond doubt when a long ball was misjudged by the Rams defence leaving Johnson with a simple task of looping a header over the onrushing Ashton to give Leek an unassailable lead.

With the match meandering to a undeniable conclusion and Leek looking in control, a change of formation from the Rams for the remaining quarter of the game failed to pay dividends and in fact things got worse on 75 minutes when Stevenson was upended in the penalty area by Henry leaving Chadwick to tuck away the spot kick to complete the scoring on a miserable afternoon for all concerned with Ramsbottom United.

The remaining ten minutes of the contest generated a couple of goal scoring attempts for the Rams with Brooks bringing another flying save from Chapman in the home goal before a deflected effort from the edge of the penalty area found the head of Gaskell but the strikers effort lacked the necessary power to find the back of the net.

With the three minutes of injury time played the referee brought and end to a contest best forgotten from a Ramsbottom United perspective whilst acknowledging that the clinical home side fully deserved their victory. Thoughts now will turn to the midweek visit of Clitheroe in the Integro Trophy where the Rams will be hoping to respond with an improved performance whilst showing that their humbling in Staffordshire was no more than a bad day at the office.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Dean, Henry, Stott (Rother 59 mins), Thompson (Downes 70 mins), Ellison, Brown, Kennedy, Gaskell, Higgs (Brooks 59 mins), Wright.

Subs not used- Robertson (GK)

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