Evo-Stik West Division
Saturday 26th January 2019
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 6 SKELMERSDALE UTD 0
Report by Jon Haslam
Ramsbottom United warmed up for their upcoming FA Trophy match against AFC Fylde in fine style with a convincing victory against bottom of the table side Skelmersdale on Saturday afternoon.
After last Saturdays five goal haul against Glossop the same eleven took to the field looking to continue the fine run of form which prior to kick off had seen the Rams unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions.
As the whistle blew to begin the contest , the rain also made an appearance and would be a constant companion during the afternoons events. It would be the hosts that would make the ideal start to the contest when on eight minutes a pass from Eddie Moran found an unmarked Jamie Rainford whose superbly timed through ball connected perfectly with the forward run of Nic Evangelinos whose calm finish under the onrushing Kirkman in the Skelmersdale goal to give the Rams the ideal start.
Perhaps a point worth noting was that the opening goal of the afternoon was the 50th to be scored under the tenure of manager Chris Willcock in 24 outings in all competitions.
The opening fifteen minutes saw the home side take the initiative as they looked to increase their advantage but had to be wary of the visitors who threatened an equaliser when a corner was cleared to Connor Belger and the wide mans goal bound effort flew past Sam Ashton before flicking the top of the crossbar to serve as a warning that the strugglers could offer some attacking menace.
Shortly after the let off Ramsbottom United doubled their advantage when Jamie Rainford received the ball just inside the penalty area before wriggling free of a couple of challenges before the strikers well placed shot from close range kissed the inside of the post before nestling in the back of the net to give the hard working forward his sixth goal in a Rams jersey.
The home side looked to take control of the contest as the lively Iyrwah Gooden struck the outside of the woodwork from a tight angle as the visitors were finding it a challenge to remain in the match in the opening stages but from the midway point of the first half Skelmersdale continued to battle hard and almost halved the arrears as Ashton again was forced into action at his near post to repel a well struck effort.
With the other top eight sides all facing each other it was important the Rams capitalised with a positive result to stake their claim for at least a play off berth come the end of the season. Despite their two goal advantage the home side found it more challenging to fashion any further clear cut goal scoring efforts as the half wore on, the best attempts were courtesy of a Kieran Lugsden effort which flew wide of the target before Gooden brought a comfortable save from the Skelmersdale stopper.
The Rams were almost made to pay again towards the half time break when after a corner was only cleared to the edge of the 18 yard box and a powerful effort at goal from Belger brought the best out of Sam Ashton as the visitors looked to give the hosts a warning that they wouldn’t have it all their own way. The Rams ended the first period with a two goal lead and after a strong start to the match the last twenty minutes of the half were much more even as the hosts looked to take full advantage of their rivals match ups elsewhere.
Whatever was said at the interval clearly had an effect as within a couple of minutes the game was all but over as a contest when on loan winger Iyrwah Gooden picked up the ball in the left hand channel some 30 yards from goal before setting off on a mazy run which took him past two Skelmersdale defenders and to the edge of the penalty area where the Mansfield youngster unleashed a well directed shot which fizzed past Kirkman to give the Rams a three goal advantage that they would ultimately not surrender.
Within ten minutes of the restart Ramsbottom United had the opportunity to further increase their lead when a through ball found the speedy Gooden with a clear run towards goal and in a one on one situation with the Skelmersdale goalkeeeper, the speedy winger nicked the ball past the onrushing Kirkman but an outstretched hand brought down the youngster and referee David Croft had no choice but to give the hosts a penalty which, after a discussion between Rainford and Evangelinos the latter comfortably exacted the full punishment by sending the yellow carded custodian the wrong way to register his thirteenth goal for the upwardly mobile Rams.
This was the third successive match in which Ramsbottom had been awarded a spot kick and after two misses Nic Evangelinos may well have the role for the foreseeable future.
With an hour played, a four goal lead and with the three points looking secure Chris Willcock decided to utilise his bench with Anthony Donaldson replacing Khalil Osi-Efa in midfield and shortly afterwards two goal hero Evangelinos made way for Ruben Jerome who was returning after a three game suspension.
It is credit to Skelmersdale that despite the score line they continued to cause some uncertainty in the home defence with Ashton called upon twice in quick succession to deny the visitors a goal that their attacking play would have arguably deserved, but with the Rams intent on securing an eleventh clean sheets in their last 24 matches the home stopper lived up to his reputation of being one of, if not the best goal keeper in the division.
The final change of the afternoon for the Rams saw Richard Brodie take the place of the influential Iyrwah Gooden
As the contest entered the final ten minutes the hosts would equal their scoreline from last weeks win at Glossop by collecting their fifth goal of the afternoon when some intricate one touch passing around the edge of the visitors penalty box between Eddie Moran, Ruben Jerome and Jamie Rainford led to the latter firing home from close range to claim his second goal of the contest and fourth strike in his last two outings proving that the industrious forward certainly knows how to find the back of the net.
With almost the three minutes of additional time played the Rams would improve on last weeks tally when a through ball from Jamie Rainford found the run of Ruben Jerome who beat the offside trap before confidently firing low past Kirkman to round off a thoroughly impressive performance from the hosts whilst also perhaps indicating why the visitors have claimed just one victory in their 25 league games to date with the Skelmersdale goals conceded column showing almost three per match.
As the final whistle sounded the Rams had completed their second “double” of the season whilst jumping up to fifth position in the league standings and will be in confident mood ahead of their eagerly anticipated and historic FA Trophy Third Round encounter at the Riverside on Saturday against a high flying AFC Fylde outfit.
Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran, Kelvin Lugsden, Ellison, Gooden (Brodie 73 mins), Osi-Efa (Donaldson 58 mins), Rainford, Kieran Lugsden, Evangelinos (Jerome 67 mins)
Unused Subs- Thompson, Carey