Integro League Cup 1st Round

Wednesday 19th September 2018



Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United entertained Clitheroe at the Riverside on a blustery Wednesday evening in the Integro League Cup for the first of two meetings within the space of four days.

The home side made a number of changes in both personnel and positionally from the weekend defeat to Leek but it was the visitors who started the brightest with a couple of long range attempts that flew high over Sam Ashtons goal in the opening minutes of the contest.

The Rams fashioned their first goal scoring opportunity with just over ten minutes played when an excellent through ball from Deegan found Phil Dean in the right hand channel but the wide mans shot failed to extend Terry in the visitors goal.

Clitheroe responded and almost broke the deadlock when a mix up in the home defence gave Cannon-Noren a glimpse of goal but young defender Alex Downes on loan from Chester made a vital clearance off the line in his first start since the second game of the season.

As the half progressed both goalkeepers were largely untroubled with a number of long range efforts failing to find their intended target as perhaps the breezy conditions affected the players goal scoring radar.

With half time approaching and the match goalless Clitheroe should maybe have taken the lead as Bianga and the dangerous Cannon-Noren linked up neatly before the latter shot wide of the target when well placed as the hosts escaped an incisive breakaway.

As the first half finished scoreless the home supporters were hoping that the second period would provide more of a goal scoring threat but it was the visitors who looked the more likely side to open their account minutes after the restart when Sloane found himself one on one with Sam Ashton but the Rams stopper pulled off a fine save to deny Clitheroe the lead.

Ramsbottom United then responded with a strike of their own when good link up play on the left hand edge of the penalty area gave Jerome Wright a sight of goal but the effort was repelled by Terry.

Unfortunately the Rams fell behind in peculiar circumstances when an attack down the right wing gave substitute Recizak the opportunity to cross to an unmarked Cannon- Noren in the centre of goal who proceeded to trip over the ball which wrongfooted Ashton and somehow the ball found its way into the net to give the visitors the lead just before the hour point of the encounter.

Shortly after the opener the Rams made two substitutions with new recruit Tom Eckersley replacing skipper Stott and Gaskell joining the action at the expense of Ben Deegan.

Clitheroe looked to clinch the tie with a second goal with Ashton again forced into action pulling off a fine save to deny the away side after an incisive break down the Rams left hand side.

The hosts were looking for a leveller with Higgs taking the place of the hardworking Jamie Rother with just over a quarter of an hour remaining and as the Rams pushed forward there was a risk that the visitors would exploit the extra space.

With the game entering the final ten minutes an ever increasingly desperate Ramsbottom United created a number of opportunities to equalise with Brooks, Higgs, Wright and Gaskell all shooting at goal without success.

As the contest ticked into injury time and with two of the five minutes indicated already played the Rams won a free kick almost in front of the home dugout, Jack Higgs swung his left foot to send the ball towards the Clitheroe penalty area and with a touch of assistance from the wind the ball sailed over the head of Terry and dropped into the back of the net to level matters and the substitute had made a positive impact. There was still time remaining for the away side to fashion another presentable chance moments after the equaliser when another penetrating break again brought the best of Ashton as he produced an excellent double save to keep the score at one goal each and with no extra time the tie would be decided by a contest from 12 yards.

Clitheroe took an early advantage as they scored with their first kick but then Jack Higgs had his effort saved by Terry, the next three spot kicks for each side were converted with Wright, Brown and Dean confidently registering for the hosts before Clitheroe’s substitute Onorou had the chance to win the match but Ashton responded to keep the contest in the balance. With nine penalties taken it was down to Lee Gaskell to take the spot kick competition into sudden death and he duly obliged by sending his kick high into the net and score read 4-4 after five penalties from each team.

With the result still in the balance Clitheroe scored their next two spot kicks with the Rams responding with Kennedy and keeper Ashton converting to level the score at six each, Snowden then smashed in his attempt leaving popular defender Luke Thompson to take the next penalty for the home side, unfortunately the effort flew over the crossbar and the away side progressed to the next stage of the competition by a score line of 7-6.

Whilst the Rams are currently unbeaten at home in 90 minutes this season this defeat was sadly the second penalty loss in cup competitions this term after the recent FA Cup elimination by Kidsgrove and bringing an end to the clubs involvement in the Integro trophy for this season.

Ramsbottom United get an early chance to exact some retribution on Clitheroe as the two sides reconvene on Saturday afternoon as league points are at stake in what should be a keenly contested match.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Stott (Eckersley 62 mins), Kennedy, Brooks, Thompson, Downes, Dean, Rother (Higgs 76 mins), Deegan (Gaskell 64 mins), Brown, Wright.

Subs not used- Robertson (GK)

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