Evo-Stik West Division

Tuesday 19th February 2019



Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United continued their quest for a play off berth with a visit to Staffordshire on Tuesday night to take on a mid table Newcastle Town in a rearranged fixture showing two alterations to the starting eleven from Saturdays hard fought victory over Colwyn Bay with Khalil Osi-Efa and latest recruit Tom Schofield taking their place in the visitors midfield at the expense of Jamie Rother and Kieran Lugsden.

The opening minutes of the contest were fairly even on a good looking surface with the hosts having the first, if albeit wayward effort of the match as they looked to build on their weekend win at Trafford. The Rams responded and with ten minutes on the clock leading scorer Nic Evangelinos had a low shot blocked by home keeper Johnson before shortly after a late tackle by Lugsden to subdue a Newcastle breakaway incurred the wrath of referee Richard Cattell who issued a yellow card for the Ramsbottom defender.

It was the visitors from Lancashire who had the bulk of the possession and attacking threat in the first quarter of the game with Newcastle threatening the play off chasers on the break with Mike Conlon and Matt Ward in particular causing the away side some moments of anxiety.

New signing Schofield showed his shooting capabilities with a well struck 20 yard effort which flew into the midriff of Johnson as Ramsbottom United looked to turn their promising attacking play into tangible reward but it would be Newcastle Town who should have opened the scoring with the best chance of the contest midway through the first period when a cross from the left hand side found an unmarked Josh Glover but the midfielders header from no more than 8 yards out sailed wide of Sam Ashtons goal much to the relief of Chris Willcocks side.

The let off appeared to stir the away side into action and a period of sustained pressure saw the Rams denied an opener when a speculative cross shot from Khalil Osi-Efa looked to have beaten the home goalie Johnson but bounced off the crossbar to deny the midfielder just after the half hour point.

A flurry of dangerous looking corners for the Rams failed to produce the breakthrough before the woodwork came to the hosts rescue ten minutes prior to the interval when Evangelinos was on the end of a flowing move down the left channel before unleashing a powerful effort which thundered off the crossbar which left Johnson grateful for the woodworks assistance in keeping the game goalless.

Minutes later the breakthrough arrived when a characteristically exemplary cross from the left hand side from Tom Kennedy found leading scorer Evangelinos whose well placed header found the back of the net to give the Rams a deserved lead on 38 minutes, the visitors was almost strengthened with five minutes of the first half remaining when Osi-Efa sent in a superb cross which found the head of the onrushing Eddie Moran but again the goal frame came to the rescue of Newcastle for the third time in the first forty five minutes as the ball bounced off the post and to safety.

The final notable action of the first period almost brought an equaliser for Town when a corner was headed wide of the target and despite having the better of the opening period a slender single goal advantage for the Rams didn’t give any real indication of what would occur during an action packed second half.

Newcastle manager and former Port Vale and Derby player Robin Van Der Laan made two alterations at the interval which would have decisive implications later in the match, however it was Ramsbottom that began the second half in a similar vein to the way they ended the first with a couple of early chances which went begging. Then, with five minutes of the second period played wide man Irywah Gooden picked up the ball before setting off on a surging run which took the speedy winger into the penalty are before a lunging Newcastle defender tripped the Mansfield loanee and after consultation with his assistant the referee awarded a spot kick for the Rams, the ever reliable Evangelinos took responsibility and despite Johnson diving the correct way the ball squeezed between the keeper and post to double the visitors advantage and secure the popular forwards 18th goal of the season.

Things would improve further for the Rams minutes before the hour mark when the persistent hard work from Jamie Rainford paid dividends when Johnson in the home goal had the ball at his feet but the visiting forward chased down the Town stopper before nicking the ball away from the beleaguered number one before firing home in splendid fashion from the angle of the penalty area to register at least a goal in each of the last four league games the striker has featured in and ninth overall in a Ramsbottom jersey and the visitors had an unassailable three goal lead.

In response Newcastle made their final substitution of the match and pushed forward looking to reduce the deficit but again the away sides rear-guard had to be resolute in their defending with the flourishing central defensive partnership of Luke Thompson and Kelvin Lugsden needing to be at their best alongside the ultra-consistent display of full backs Kyle Jacobs and Tom Kennedy who were giving the ever-present Sam Ashton excellent protection as the hosts were struggling to seriously test the visiting goal keeper.

With the match at the three quarter point Chris Willcock responded with two alterations as Ryan Ellison and Ruben Jerome entered the fray at the expense of Kennedy and Gooden respectively. Moments later things went from bad to worse for the home side when half time substitute Lint limped out of the action leaving Newcastle down to ten men for the remaining quarter of the encounter having utilised their full complement of changes,

With Ramsbottom United three goals to the good and the opposition a player light the remainder of the contest was played out with the away side pushing forward relentlessly for more goals whilst the hosts laboured to keep the rampant visitors at bay whilst struggling to make any serious attacking impact.

The final substitution of the contest saw the excellent Eddie Moran being replaced by Tony Donaldson in the Rams engine room, the closing ten minutes saw the away sides single minded approach double their winning margin. Firstly a precise through ball found Khalil Osi-Efa alone 10 yards from goal with just Johnson to beat and the young midfielder registered his first goal for the club by cleverly rounding the keeper before walking the ball into an empty net for the Rams fourth goal of the match.

With the Rams controlling the match the fifth goal arrived with five minutes left as Kyle Jacobs threaded a through ball through to recently arrived substitution Donaldson who controlled the pass before firing into the far corner past the diving Johnson to also notch the first goal of the popular midfielders Rams career.

As Newcastle craved the final whistle a cleverly disguised pass from Nic Evangelinos found Ruben Jerome in on goal and the substitute confidently tucked the ball under the keeper to complete the scoring and go one goal better than the recent 5-0 win at Glossop with the side scoring a hugely impressive tally of 24 goals in the last 7 fixtures in all competition.

As the final whistle blew on another well merited seventh consecutive league away from home for the Rams the players receiving a well deserved and rousing reception from the visiting supporters for a scintillating second half performance full of six appeal.

An excellent all round team display in which it was difficult to select an obvious man of the match performance but new recruit Tom Schofield showed up well on his debut and was an additional bonus as the strength of the Ramsbottom United squad continues to impress.

The loyal band of fans who made the trip had plenty of time to dissect the evenings events as lane closures on the M6 North bound dictated that most arrived through their front doors around midnight tired but very happy having witnessed a ruthless and powerful performance from Chris Willcock’s outfit.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy (Ellison 68 mins) , Jacobs, Moran (Donaldson 74 mins ) Thompson, Kelvin Lugsden, Gooden (Jerome 68 mins), Schofield, Rainford, Osi-Efa, Evangelinos

Unused Subs- Rother , Carey

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