Evo-Stik West Division
Tuesday 26th February 2019
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 1 COLNE 3
Report by Jon Haslam
Two form sides went head to head on Tuesday night as Colne visited the HWRS hoping to halt the Rams’ recent exemplary progress which showed five consecutive league victories and no goals conceded in over 480 minutes,
With an unchanged line up for the hosts from Saturdays comprehensive victory at Trafford hopes were high that a positive result would take the hosts into the top three.
However it would be the visitors that began the contest in lively fashion with midfielders Bradley Lynch, Alex Curran and Josh Hines in the midfield areas causing some concern to the home sides defence supplementing the burly Djabi who appeared to be the focal point of the away sides attacking plans.
Colne almost took the lead on seven minutes when a good advantage from the referee set Curran away down the left hand side before firing a shot on target but Sam Ashton parried the ball wide, the subsequent corner was played to the far post where former Rams defender Billy Priestley had a header blocked on the line as the visitors threatened to break the deadlock early in the match.
With just over a quarter of an hour played Colne opened the scoring and it was no more than the away side deserved when forward Djabi held up the ball before releasing the speedy Lynch towards the Rams penalty box where a well struck shot brought another fine save from Ashton but the loose ball fell to Curran whose well placed diagonal shot nestled into the bottom corner of the net.
Ramsbottom United responded to conceding their first league goal since the 5th of January with Evangelinos having an effort which flew over the bar before a Tom Kennedy cross found the head of the unmarked Kieran Lugsden but the attempt sailed wide of the target as the hosts sought a quick reply.
With 25 minutes played Colne doubled their advantage when in similar fashion to the first goal a breakaway lead to Ashton saving a well struck shot from Curran before picking up the rebound and setting up the unmarked ex Bury midfielder Richie Baker who tapped into a gaping net to give the Rams an uphill task.
Sadly things would get even worse for the Rams with less than a third of the contest played when a defensive mix up in the full back area was seized upon by Waqas Azam who passed to Hines before the winger strode through the hosts defence and confidently despatched the shot past the bewildered Ashton to give Colne a sizeable three goal lead just after the thirty minute point of the match.
With the Rams appearing somewhat shell shocked the side looked to reduce the arrears before half time with Lugsden again getting his head to a Kennedy free kick but Burton in the visitors goal wasn’t concerned as the effort flew off target.
As the first period came to a close even the most ardent Ramsbottom United supporter would have found it difficult to argue with the fact that Colne were the better of the two sides and in truth the three goal advantage didn’t really flatter the visitors as the Rams struggled to reach the form that had seen them reach a play off position due to some excellent performances of late.
Perhaps surprisingly the hosts returned after the half time interval unchanged, although the team were sent out early from their half time break undoubtedly with some strong words ringing in their ears from manager Chris Willcock who would have been hoping for a much improved second half showing from his charges.
The second period began with the Rams showing some desire to reduce the arrears as they sought to put the a disappointing 45 minutes behind them. With no alteration to the scoreline ten minutes into the second half the hosts made a double substitution with Anthony Donaldson and Ryan Ellison replacing Eddie Moran and Kelvin Lugsden in the hope of sparking a revival for the out of sorts home outfit.
As the hour mark approached, substitute Donaldson played a neat exchange of passes on the edge of the penalty area before the midfielder found himself behind the Colne defence and in in goal but couldn’t get a clean shot away and despite some panic in the visiting defence and with the ball bobbling goalwards a retreating Priestley scrambled the ball off the line to retain the three goal advantage their devastating first half hour had provided.
The more the minutes ticked by the more it appeared as though it would just be one of those nights for the hosts as an effort from Jamie Rother fizzed just wide of the target before Colne threatened to extend their advantage further when the hugely impressive Lynch cut in from the left wing and sent an effort arrowing wide of the goal with Ashton motionless.
Ramsbottom United continued to push forward looking to register their first goal of the evening but the Colne defence was in stubborn mood and despite the hosts having the majority of the attacking possession in the second half they rarely threatened visiting custodian Burton.
The final change for the Rams saw midfielder Jamie Rother make way for Khalil Osi-Efa around the three quarter mark of the contest but in truth Colne were managing the lead fairly comfortably as despite the home sides efforts it became clear that it would be one of those evenings best forgotten as the raucous away supporters continued to enjoy the local bragging rights as their sides third consecutive victory at The Riverside in the last three seasons looked probable.
With ten minutes of the contest remaining Ramsbottom did get on the scoresheet when fine work from Anthony Donaldson gave the creative midfielder the chance to play the ball in the penalty area where a series of shots were blocked by the Colne rearguard before the ball fell kindly to Nic Evangelinos whose low shot beat Burton in the Colne goal to give the in form winger his 20th strike of a very productive season.
Sadly the late goal didn’t spark a spectacular comeback from the Rams and despite Colne surrendering the majority of possession in the second period credit should be given to the visitors as they managed their lead efficiently whilst sporadically threatening to extend their advantage on the counter attack with the pacey forward line a constant source of irritatation for the usually solid Rams defence.
With time trickling away Burton was forced into a diving save to deny Ruben Jerome before the final noteworthy attempt of the match was a 20 yard attempt from Evangelinos which just cleared the crossbar but as the final whistle sounded the Rams had succumbed to only their third league defeat in 18 league outings under Chris Willcock and will be looking for a positive reaction to a disappointing evening when Widnes visit the HWRS on Saturday afternoon.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran (Donaldson 53 mins ) Thompson, Kelvin Lugsden (Ellison 54 mins), Rainford, Rother (Osi-Efa 66 mins), Jerome, Kieran Lugsden, Evangelinos
Unused Subs- Gooden, Carey