BetVictor Northern Premier League North West Division
Tuesday 10th September 2019
Ramsbottom United 2 Clitheroe 0
Report by Jon Haslam
After three successive away fixtures in a hectic seven day period Ramsbottom United hosted East Lancashire rivals Clitheroe on Tuesday night looking to continue their positive start to the season.
Clitheroe arrived at The Riverside unbeaten on the road in their opening three league matches and started the game like a side brimming with confidence and almost shocked the hosts in the opening minute when a Mulgrew pass found Cummins whose well struck effort flew narrowly wide of the target.
With a dozen minutes on the clock the visitors registered the first effort on target courtesy of Jacob Gregory although home stopper Tom Stewart wasn’t seriously tested but confirmed that the away side had started the local argument with more purpose especially from an attacking perspective.
The contest was developing into an interesting encounter despite the hosts finding it tough to fashion any chances that could be described as clear cut, the best efforts being a couple of long range efforts from Mason Fawns which ultimately failed to trouble Connor King in the Clitheroe goal.
As the half hour point was almost reached Ramsbottom United produced their best attacking moment of the half when progressive play down the left wing gave Nic Evangelinos a sight of goal but the well struck goal bound effort was blocked smartly at the near post by King.
Only a matter of minutes later a defensive mix up lead to goalkeeper Stewart handling a back pass from young central defender Teddy Perkins which gave Clitheroe a free kick in a threatening position just inside the hosts penalty area but thankfully the effort was rebuffed by the Rams defensive wall.
It would be the home side that responded by making headway down the left flank and excellent link up play between Evangelinos and Iyrwah Gooden lead to the latter firing in a shot which again was blocked at the near post by King in almost identical fashion to the save less then ten minutes earlier.
With the half time interval less than five minutes away Clitheroe again demonstrated their counter attacking ability when an incisive move gave Gregory a sight of goal but the clever curling attempt from the edge of the penalty box sailed narrowly wide of the target and shortly after referee Davies blew his whistle to end a goalless forty five minutes which the visitors could have been forgiven for thinking they had been the side looking most likely to break the deadlock with an energetic counter attacking display that gave the home support plenty to ponder during the interval.
As the contest resumed hopes were high that Ramsbottom United could extend their home league victories to three this term and they almost began the second half in ideal fashion by creating two presentable chances in the opening minutes, firstly Iyrwah Gooden won a strong tackle before shooting towards goal but the wingers effort bounced fractionally wide of the upright before Chukwu turned smartly in the penalty box but again the attempt failed to test King in the visitors goal.
In an increasingly open encounter both teams created concerned for the opposition defenders before the deadlock was finally broken around the hour mark when a trademark piece of pace and trickery from Iyrwah Gooden gave the winger the opportunity to send in a low inviting cross from the byline which married up perfectly with the run of Nic Evangelinos who converted from close range and the Rams had a lead they would ultimately not surrender.
Both benches made alterations shortly after the opening goal with Fawns making way for Osi-Efa in the Rams midfield whilst the Clitheroe boss responding by making a couple of attacking changes as the visitors looked for a way to level the scoreline.
The Ramsbottom United defence were being given a testing evening by the youthful visitors but the experience of Kelvin Lugdsen and skipper Tom Kennedy guided youngsters Teddy Perkins and the particularly impressive Sam Adetiloye towards a clean sheet with Stewart in the home goal called upon to make fairly routine saves despite some pacey attacking threat from the visitors.
With the result still in the balance and with less than ten minutes to play the decisive second goal arrived for the hosts when a Tom Kennedy free kick from the left was floated into the Clitheroe penalty area and the wonderfully named Anointed Chukwu skilfully controlled the ball before finishing with an angled low drive which flew past King to double the hosts and give the young striker his third goal in this last two outings for the Rams.
The remainder of the game passed without any serious threat to the home sides lead as the Rams earned a hard fought three points and third consecutive home league victory against a lively Clitheroe side who may feel they deserved more out of an entertaining match but the win lifted Ramsbottom United to second place in the early league standings
A point worthy of mention is that the Rams have not lead at half time in any of their opening five league outings this term but ultimately have registered four victories from five to demonstrate that Chris Willcocks side have the ability to grind their opponents into submission especially in the second half of games as the promising beginning to the season continues ahead of Saturdays tough looking fixture at Ossett United.
Ramsbottom United- Stewart, Adetiloye, Kennedy (Capt), Moran, Perkins, Lugsden, Gooden (Moncrieffe 84 mins),Rother, Chukwu (Hmami 90 mins), Fawns (Osi-Efa 62 mins), Evangelinos
Subs not used- Jones, Minard (GK)