FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Saturday 24th November 2018
PICKERING TOWN 0 RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 0
Report by Jon Haslam
Mill Lane was the destination on Saturday as Ramsbottom United ventured to North Yorkshire to take on Pickering Town for the first ever meeting between the two clubs in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Trophy
Amazingly the Rams, who are the only representatives remaining in the competition from the Evo-Stik Western Division, have been drawn away from home in each of the last six Trophy ties and lined up with just one change from the midweek victory over Yaxley with Kahlil Osi-Efa slotting into central defence in the absence of the suspended Luke Thompson.
It was the visitors that began the contest positively with Nialle Rodney getting the first shot on target but Charlie Andrew in the home goal gathered with ease, the opening ten minutes belonged to the Rams as a number of early Tom Kennedy corners put the Pickering rearguard under pressure but ultimately without success.
The hosts weathered the strong start which is now becoming a feature of Chris Willcocks team and threatened for the first time when Ryan Blott’s shot failed to trouble Sam Ashton but signalled the home sides intent to continue their recent run of good form which had seen the Pikes lose just one of their last eight outings in all competitions.
With a quarter of an hour played Pickering fashioned a chance to break the deadlock when leading scorer Blott headed over the bar from a cross from the lively Taylor as the encounter was developing into an intriguing tussle. The Rams replied shortly afterwards with a shot on goal on their own after excellent approach play between Kyle Jacobs and Anthony Donaldson around the penalty area gave Rodney a sight of goal but his attempt was again gathered by Andrew.
Pickering came closest to opening the scoring with 25 minutes played when Bissett crossed to the far post and with the Rams struggling to clear their lines the ball fell to Blott whose powerful effort thumped off the woodwork and bounced to safety much to the relief of the healthy contingent of Ramsbottom United supporters in attendance.
With around half an hour played the Pikes again served notice of their attacking threat when an incisive break away lead to two goal bound efforts being blocked by the hardworking Rams defence before the ball fell to Taylor whose attempt flew wide of the target as the home side looked to take the lead in a well contested tie.
The remaining minutes of the first period swung back in the Rams favour as the all action midfield of Moran, Rother and Donaldson looked to provide the ammunition to the in form attacking trident of Rodney, Evangelinos and Jerome. It would be the latter that would force Andrew into action with five minutes of the half remaining after a good lay off by Donaldson set up the forward but his attempt was pushed to safety by the home keeper.
With half time fast approaching Ramsbottom United created their clearest sight of goal when a defensive slip up in the Pickering defence was seized upon by Ruben Jerome but the unmarked strikers effort flew wide of the target as the half way point was reached with the deadlock yet to be broken in a 45 minutes in which the Rams arguably had the better of but the hosts offered enough attacking menace to suggest that the second period would be difficult to suggest which side would progress.
The second half began in a similar vein to how the first half ended with the visitors pushing forward as Rodney again fired towards goal in the opening moments but the effort sailed off target.
With less than ten minutes played in the second period perhaps the most contentious moment of the game occurred when a ball over the top of the Rams defence saw Sam Ashton run out of his penalty area to confront and make contact with the onrushing home attacker before the ball fell kindly to a Pickering player who lobbed the ball into an unguarded net but mercifully the referee had already blown his whistle for the initial foul therefore not playing the advantage much to the obvious annoyance of the home support, to add to their sense of frustration the resultant free kick cleared the crossbar.
As the game progressed Pickering looked to build some attacking momentum but the Rams, without being at their fluent best, still possessed enough in forward areas to keep the home defence on their toes, an example of which saw Donaldson thread a pass to Nic Evangelinos whose strong run and shot brought a diving save from Andrew at his near post.
With the Rams currently on an eleven game unbeaten run and averaging over 2.5 goals per game hopes were high that the visitors could make the breakthrough and attempts from Donaldson and Evangelinos again gave hope that the superb run would continue.
As the hour mark arrived Kieran Lugsden replaced the inventive Donaldson in midfield but it would be Pickering that would create and spurn a number of opportunities, the best of which brought Ashton into action with a low save before another shot flew into the side netting as Pickering looked to edge in front.
With three quarters of an excellent cup tie completed the away side responded when a surging run from the impressive Kyle Jacobs found the full back playing a one two before striding purposefully forward and hitting a low shot which Andrew blocked with his legs as the chances continued to be created.
After the earlier disallowed goal, the Rams were again grateful for the officials intervention at the midway point of the half when Pickering were denied the opener when a cross from the right wing was turned into the net by Greening but the linesman’s flag curtailed the home sides celebrations as the match remained goalless.
The remaining twenty minutes provided a real test of the Rams defensive resilience as Pickering poured forward looking to avoid the need for a replay and the home supporters were again irked at the officials as a loud claim for a penalty was denied as the frustration levels increased.
As the minutes ticked away the home team created a number of chances as they sought to end the stalemate, the closest of which was a Logan header which struck the upright with Ashton helpless as the visitors stubbornly clung on in what was perhaps proving to be their most difficult ninety minutes since Chris Willcock took the reigns.
With the pressure increasing and the Rams unbeaten run under threat Pickering continued to search for what looked like being the deciding goal with set pieces also proving troublesome but with some resilient defending and wayward finishing from the home side the nerves amongst the travelling supporters were becoming progressively frayed.
The final opportunity of an enthralling tie came to Pickering when a through ball gave Blott a chance but his low angled attempt was blocked by the ever reliable Sam Ashton and as the final whistle sounded the Rams would perhaps feel a sense of relief that they had withstood a second half barrage whilst not being at their attacking best to earn a replay at the Riverside on Tuesday night where the winners will already know who their opponents will be in the First Round of the FA Trophy, a draw which includes the National League sides.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran ,Osi-Efa, Ellison,, Rodney(Rowe 87),Rother, Jerome, Donaldson(Lugsden 59), Evangelinos
Unused Subs- Hart,Jarrett,Parker
COMING UP: Monday 26th November FA Trophy 1st Round Draw 2pm Live on TalkSport 2
Tuesday 27th November FA Trophy Round3Q Replay RAMS v Pickering Town 7.45pm
Saturday 1st December Evo-Stik West RAMS v Runcorn Linnets 3.00pm