Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 24th August 2019
Ramsbottom United 3 Winsford United 3
Report by Jon Haslam
This thrilling FA Cup tie saw six goals shared between a Ramsbottom United side that had won both league matches to date and a Winsford United outfit that sat eighth in the NWCL on a sun kissed afternoon at The Riverside.
The Rams lined up with just a single alteration from the midweek victory at Pickering with Karl Jones getting his first start and the recent arrival got the goal laden contest underway on just three minutes when Ruben Jerome laid the ball to the forward and despite having his initial effort blocked the ball fell kindly to the frontman and the well struck shot flew past Rigby to give the hosts the ideal start.
Winsford responded positively to the early setback by levelling matters just shy of the ten minute mark when a long ball forward caught out the home sides rearguard and ex Rams player Sam Madeley came back to haunt his former club by sliding it to convert an inviting cross for his sixth goal of the campaign.
The goals continued to flow and the hosts edged back in front almost immediately after the kick off when a through ball found speedster Irywah Gooden who got beyond his marker and just inside the penalty area was tripped and referee Young pointed to the spot, with usual penalty taker Nic Evangelinos on the bench up stepped Ruben Jerome to confidently convert the spot kick to register the frontmans third goal in three appearances.
In a topsy turvy encounter the home sides lead lasted until the sixteenth minute when another long ball caught out the Rams defence and with Tom Stewart off his line Winsford forward David Short was given the opportunity to lob the home stopper which he executed superbly from 25 yards to bring the sides level at two goals apiece.
As the half hour was reached a potentially pivotal moment occurred when a robust challenge between Jamie Rother and Obi Anoruo ended with referee Young deciding that the tackle was worthy of a red card and for the second time in two home fixtures this season the opposition has been reduced to ten men prior to half time.
With a man advantage Ramsbottom United looked to take control of an entertaining cup tie and almost regained the lead twice in a short period of time, firstly Mason Fawns sent in a cross which Irywah Gooden headed over Rigby but unfortunately clipped the top of the crossbar before a patient move down the left wing led to Ruben Jerome laying the ball back to Jamie Rother whose low drive narrowly missed the target.
As the first forty five minutes was almost completed the Rams grabbed the fifth goal of an absorbing encounter when a low drive from Karl Jones brought a fine save from visiting custodian Rigby but the parried effort felt kindly to Ruben Jerome who converted to continue his encouraging goal filled start to the campaign and the hosts regained their goal advantage.
A point worthy of note is that Ramsbottom United last tasted victory in an FA Cup tie back on the 17th September 2013 when defeating a Stocksbridge Park Steels outfit in a replay so with a narrow one goal lead against a team down to ten men hopes were high that that particular statistic could be consigned to the history books.
The start of the second period began with the Rams on the front foot with two early efforts which didn’t seriously test Rigby in the Winsford goal but the away side served notice of their intention to test the hosts defence when a swift counter attack saw Cottrell cross for an unmarked Short but the strikers first time effort sailed over the crossbar much the relief of the home faithful.
Ramsbottom United then set about trying to find a fourth goal that may have edged the tie their way when an acrobatic clearance denied the hosts via a looping header before an incisive run and shot from the impressive Gooden crashed into the crossbar with Rigby helpless.
The home side then utilised their substitutes bench midway through the second period with Eddie Moran making a welcome return to the side alongside Khalil Osi-Efa and Will Ozono looking to add fresh legs to ensure the home side progressed to the next round of the competition.
Despite the visitors being a player down the Rams were finding it difficult to keep control of possession as they toiled to create a clear cut chance and this appeared to give Winsford hope as they continued to pose a threat on the counter attack and in truth caused the hosts more problems in attack than Widnes did whilst in a similar position some seven days earlier.
Then, with just less than a quarter of an hour remaining the sixth and final goal of an enthralling encounter arrived when an attack down the left hand side lead to a deep cross being sent into the home box before finding its way to substitute Samuel Marshall at the far post who became the Winsford hero by confidently firing past Stewart to equalise for a third time in the match.
As the final minutes slipped away the hosts toiled to create the opportunity that could lead to a late winner but credit must go to Winsford who defended doggedly repelling numerous and increasingly desperate crosses and indeed could and maybe should have won the contest with only minutes remaining when another lighting fast breakaway split open the Rams defence before the final pass found a well placed Winsford forward but the attempt sailed over the cross bar.
As the final moments ebbed away without further notable incidents both sides may feel that they deserved to win the tie and despite an enthralling contest for the neutral supporter both sides will reconvene in Cheshire on Monday 2nd September looking to progress to the First Qualifying Round.
Ramsbottom United- Stewart, Bleau (Moran 66 mins), Kennedy (Capt), Rother, Lent, Lugsden, Gooden (Osi-Efa 70 mins), Naidole, Jerome, Fawns (Ozono 70 mins), Jones
Subs not used- Evangelinos, Norris