BetVictor Northern Premier League North West Division
Tuesday 20th August
Pickering Town 1 Ramsbottom United 2
Match report by Jon Haslam
Ramsbottom United made the 200 mile round trip to North Yorkshire on Tuesday evening for their first away game of the season looking to continue the momentum from the stunning weekend comeback against Widnes.
The opening fixtures of the season saw both sides experience contrasting fortunes with the Pikes suffering a 4-1 reverse at Workington whilst the Rams edged a five goal thriller at the Riverside, the visitors showed just one alteration with Tommy Lent replacing Harry Norris in the central defensive berth.
Pickering began the match looking to respond to their weekend reverse and opened the scoring with their first attack of the contest with less then two minutes on the clock when a pass from Dalton opened up the visitors defence and Danny Earl latched onto the through ball before surging towards goal rounding the onrushing Rams stopper Stewart and slotting into an empty net to give the hosts the ideal start.
Ramsbottom reacted in a positive manner with wide men Gooden and Evangelinos looking particular threats although the home defence needed to be at their best to retain their early advantage with both Turnbull and Watson at the heart of the Pikes defence denying the visitors with perfectly times challenges when the Rams were well positioned to shoot for goal.
With almost a third of the contest played the hosts almost surrendered their narrow lead on a couple of occasions when firstly Mason Fawns sent an effort just too high of the target before the same player had an attempt cleared off the line as Chris Willcocks outfit looked to get back on level terms.
In what was proving to be an open half of football the home side almost improved their position further when a ball forward caught out the visitors defence and with the blue shirted forward through one on one with Rams keeper Stewart the effort sailed off target much to the relief of the visiting supporters but served notice that Pickering were proving a lively attacking threat on the break.
As the halfway point of this cross Pennine clash was reached Ramsbottom United frustratingly went into the interval in arrears and despite having the superiority in regards to possession and also numerous promising set piece situations the away side couldn’t force Foulkes in the Pikes goal into any serious action.
With both sides beginning the second period unchanged it would be Pickering that would be the first side to threaten to add to their tally when a strong run from the half way line by goal scorer Earl opened up the visiting defence but the cross towards Jowett at the far post was intercepted perfectly by Kelvin Lugsden and further damage to the score line was avoided for the Rams.
With less than ten minutes played of the second half played Ramsbottom United had the ideal opportunity to level the game when a through ball saw Irywah Gooden surging into the penalty area before being bundled to the ground by a recovering Pikes defender and the official pointed to the penalty spot,unfortunately the usually reliable Nic Evangelinos saw his spot kick saved by the Hull City loanee Foulkes and the hosts lead remained intact.
With the hour point almost reached and the Rams looking an attacking threat the equaliser almost arrived when a quickly taken free kick from Tom Kennedy found the clever run of Ruben Jerome but the strikers flicked headed effort was tipped over the crossbar by the increasingly busy home keeper.
As the match continued the contest was developing into a familiar pattern with the visitors having the lions share of the possession and attacking menace, it should be noted however that Pickering defended their lead stubbornly with the hosts throwing their bodies in front of the ball with seemingly increasing regularity whilst the home sides attacking prowess on the counter attack certainly kept the Rams defensive players honest in what was shaping up to be a very watchable encounter.
With the contest appearing like it could be “One of those nights” a two minute spell just after the seventy minute mark turned the game completely on its head, firstly a cross from the right wing found Irywah Gooden unmarked at the far post and the youngster controlled the ball well before sending an excellent placed shot arrowing into the top corner to get the Rams back on level terms which was no more than the visitors deserved.
Then within sixty seconds Ramsbottom took the lead when a clever through ball penetrated the Pickering defensive line sending bustling forward Ruben Jerome through on goal and the injury time hero from Saturday held off his marker before confidently striding forward into the penalty area and sending a well struck shot past Foulkes and into the bottom corner to give the away team the advantage and the forward notched the decisive goal for the second consecutive match.
The remainder of the evening saw Pickering continue to push players forward looking for a leveller with Lugsden and Kennedy organising the Rams backline in familiarly vocal fashion with new goal keeper Tom Stewart looking assured between the sticks.
Ramsbottom United utilised the substitutes bench late in the match with Karl Jones making his league bow for the club and Chukwu replacing goal grabbers Ruben Jerome and Irywah Gooden respectively.
As the victory looked in sight for the Rams and the ninety minutes completed there was one last moment of concern when a cross was played deep into the visitors penalty area and a home forward was first to the ball but thankfully the headed attempt bounced wide of Stewarts goal much to the relief of all connected with Ramsbottom United
A final blast of the referees whistle brought proceedings to a close and the three points headed back to the Red Rose county as the Rams 100% start to the season continued, it should be noted that this was the first time since 2010/11 that Ramsbottom United had taken maximum points from their opening two league fixtures. Before embarking on the journey home the delighted loyal band of away supporters gave the players a warm round of applause for the efforts which was reciprocated as the Rams look forward to FA Cup action on Saturday with Winsford United the visitors to the HWRS.
Ramsbottom United- Stewart, Bleau,, Kennedy (Capt), Rother, Lent, Lugsden, Gooden (Chukwu 86 mins), Naidole, Jerome (Jones 78 mins), Fawns, Evangelinos
Subs not used-Adetiloye, Norris, Moncrieffe