Ramsbottom live to fight another day in FA Trophy courtesy of a last-gasp header courtesy of super sub Iyrwah Gooden. Trailing 2-1 deep into added time, up came the on-loan Mansfield striker to head home a precious equaliser and for the first time in the clubs history, The Rams will be in the competitions Third Round draw.
Four changes were made to the side held by Leek Town the previous week. The Rams had lost Ruben Jerome to suspension and Jamie Rainford was cup-tied. Anthony Donaldson and Kieran Lugsden took to the bench as Khalil Osi-Efa, Kyle Jacobs, Simon Woodford and Jason Carey came into the starting eleven.
In the opening minutes, Jacobs headed wide of the post from a deep Nic Evangelinos cross before Woodford failed to make solid contact on the ball when in ideal space from a corner.
Despite playing some wonderful football, Rammy fell behind in the 37th minute by conceding a sloppy set piece goal. A Weymouth attacker was toppled under a rather wild challenge from Luke Thompson, handing the visitors a rare attempt at goal. It proved to be a turning point as Weymouth’s number six Jake McCarthy met a pin point cross by play maker Brandon Goodship. The goal sent Weymouth into the break with a narrow advantage, although on another day it could well have been a very different story.
Not wanting to see their Cup run come to an end, Ramsbottom came out fighting in the second half, yet had Sam Ashton to thank for keeping the Weymouth goal total at just the one. Ashton denied Calvin Brooks from a tight angle, before making a smart stop to deny the ever impressive Goodship for Weymouth. Evangelinos was always a threat for the Rams yet could not find a way past Thomas down at the oppositions end.
All was to change in the 68th minute though, Evangelinos again putting his name to the scoresheet. A low clever corner ball by Kennedy was turned in by the left winger who continually shows what an important figure he is in this Rammy side.
Cup competitions are well known for their drama and this tie provided it’s own nail-biting moments for both teams. In the final stages either side could have easily been victorious. Eddie Moran beat the offside trap when through on goal but couldn’t quite get round Thomas to slide the ball into an empty net. Within seconds Weymouth surged forward and thought they had navigated their way through a difficult away tie when front man Brooks put his side back in front again with a neat finish tucked away past Ashton.
Yet Ramsbottom do not know when they are beaten and continued to press for an equaliser. Thompson made an ambitious run into the opposing box but came up short when directing his header goalwards as the Rams looked to at least take the game back down to the South Coast. In the dying moment of injury time up stepped Gooden to convert a Kennedy cross into a crowded penalty area to bring the scores level and secure a replay for Rammy on Tuesday night.
At the close of play, manager Chris Willcock was again proud of his sides efforts, yet was wary of the fact Ramsbottom could have won it with the chances created. “I’ve got the upmost admiration for the lads. They’ve given everything today and we live to fight another day, just. I have had some dramatic moments in my managerial career and this is another one.
We’ve trained Tuesday and Thursday this week and for large periods the lads have implemented our game plan well”. The Replay on Tuesday at Weymouth may cause a few problems regarding travel and work arrangements because after all, non-league players are not full time professionals, Ramsbottom United included.
On this issue Willcock remarked. “I think all the management team will be able to supplement the bench’ he chuckled with a wry smile on his face. “We’re more than looking forward to going back to Weymouth. Going there can only inspire you from a playing prospective. “There are some big teams left in the draw at the moment but we will see what Tuesday brings. These last four games for Rammy have been huge and the fans have been tremendous every time”.
Rams: Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison (Gooden 45’), Moran, Thompson, Woodford, Osi-Efa, Rother, Carey (Slew 64’), Jacobs, Evangelinos unused subs: Donaldson, Lugsden, Slew, Parker