Evo-Stik West Division
Saturday 3rd November 2018
Skelmersdale United v Ramsbottom United.
Report by Damien Barlow
On a blustery afternoon in Merseyside where hosts Skelmersdale’s more boisterous and physical approach seemed to work for much of the first half in an attempt to stop the visitors from playing eventually caught up with them in the second half as Ramsbottom pulled away and ultimatley ending the game with 10 men.
As the game got underway, it was the away side who enjoyed more of the ball, and repeatedly tried their luck down the right through Nialle Rodney. It was the number 7 who managed to get the games first cross away which only found the home keeper. Skelmersdale’s first attempt on Sam Ashtons goal came as a result of a free kick in the corner after a strong coming together where Thompson was deemed the guilty party. The resulting kick was easliy dealt with and cleared by Moran to the edge of the box where Anthony Donaldson was impeded challenging for the second ball and winning his side a free kick – a pattern that would become only too familiar as the game developed.
The opening minutes continued in the same veign with freekicks a plenty, and little chance of any notable string of passes being put together as the game struggled to wriggle free of the scrappy start that had been served up thus far.
It was the home side who ended up fashioning the best chance of breaking the deadlock, as full back Charles Duke turned Evangelinos in his own half and brought the ball forward before sending a well delivered 40 yard ball looking for No9 Declan Daniels which cleared the Rammy back line and found its intended target. Daniels worked enough space and got his effort away on the half volley, but lacked real purpose and Ashtons positional acumen made the save a simple task. However in his attempt at goal the challenge which hampered a more powerful shot seemed to have caused the front man some pain, and as both physios attended to him on the pitch, he finally left the playing area on a stretcher – hopefully this is nothing too serious and a speedy recovery is wished by all.
As the free kick count rose with intent, Tom Kennedy sent the latest award wide right to Kyle Jacobs who took a couple of rare allowed touches before sending in a teasing cross for Thompson to attack but his effort was short of power and direction and bobbled wide. As the half progressed, Ramsbottom number 10 Donaldson was coming under more and more scrutiny from Skelmersdale who seem to have taken a dis-like to him, and a fourth ‘clever’ foul drew another free kick. Again in was Kennedy who sent the kick towards the back post for Thompson who won the header but Skelmersdale cleared their lines without too much trouble.
The breakthrough did finally come on the 22nd minute as Donaldson worked his way from his man down the left and managed to work the ball towards the 6 yard line for Ruben Jerome to make no mistake and smash his attempt past the static Smith.
SKELMERSDALE 0 RAMSBOTTOM 1
The goal and lead now gave the vistors the confidence to try and play more football, and again it was Rodney who worked down the right, away from his man and into the area, only for his in-box pass to be cleared. His sheer tenacity though, and with help from Jacobs, the ball was back in Rammy possession. Skelmersdale seemed to take offence at the wingers trickery, and so another free kick was awarded, and Tom Kennedys left foot, which by now must have been on overtime, sent another in-swinger towards the back post for Ellison to powerfully thunder a header inches over the bar.
The 26th minute finally saw the referees goodwill run out with the over zealous approach from Skelmersdale and the yellow card came out to play as James Ohara needlessly hacked down Niall Rodney who was a yard from the touch line. The favour was returned minutes later, and just as needlessly, Rodney found his name taken for challenge that had more than a hint of retribution about it.
As the half time whistle thankfully blew on a 45 minutes which was littered with free kicks, mis-placed passes and 2 very different game plans, Ramsbottom did hold the advantage and with something to hold on to would hopefully build on in the second half.
HALF TIME SKELMERSDALE 0 RAMSBOTTOM 1
The second half started without any changes from either side.
If anyone was wondering if a change in approach would greet the on-lookers for the 2nd period they were left in no doubt, as Ramsbottom were awarded their first re-start set piece within 10 seconds of the half. This was quickly followed up with another foul on Donaldson who took a friendly knock to the back of his head. Back on his feet and ready to go, the referee allowed him the pleasure of the 40 yard trip to the touch line and then immediatley making the return trip back to where he started.
52 minutes saw the next decent half chance for the visitors, as Jacobs intercepted a wayward pass and travelled forward looking for Jerome but unfortunatley the covering defender mopped up any danger. The vigour and energy from Ramsbottom allowed them to chase the ball down on several occasions and as Tom Kennedy held the ball for a second too long, William Dunne mis-timed his challenge and became the second Skelmersdale player to aquaint himself with the referees book.
The bookings count was levelled up again shortly after as Ryan Ellisons challenge on the recently booked Dunne was frowned uopn by the man in the middle and after giving himself a few moments to be sure, duely issued the warning of the yellow kind.
On 55 minutes the away side had a half hearted appeal for a penalty as Jerome rolled his man on the right hand side and sent in a low cross which was blocked by the covering defender who was lying on the floor. The offical waved away any appeals coming his way, suggesting no intent.
Tom Molyneux became the latest player in the book, arguably the most harsh of the day as the ball was played in field to Bembo-Leta he dummied the oncoming Molyneux who had already, in fairness, commited to the challenge and had no way of pulling out.
The hour mark brought a great chance for the visitors to double their lead and probably put the game to bed. Ruben Jerome again showing great skill and ability to brek free on the right side. A half challenge offered him the opportunity to chance his arm for a penalty claim but rightly chose to stay on his feet and found Evangelinos who showed equal ability to work an opening and got a shot away which beat the keeper only to be thwarted by the covering man on the line, his clearence only found Bembo-Leta and from 7 yards somehow with the goal gaping sent his effort wide.
The second goal for Ramsbottom did arrive minutes later, as Evangelinos picked the ball up just in the Skelmersdale half and immediatley looked to run at the back tracking defence. With only Jerome ahead he lifted a perfectly weighted ball into the path of the eager striker and once he had muscled his man off the ball he clinically despatched the ball in the top corner leaving the keeper well and truely beaten.
SKELMERSDALE 0 RAMSBOTTOM 2
The 70th minute saw yet another cynical challenge on Donaldson, this time from home captain Phil Mooney. The challenge had a comparable similarity to the first 2 of the day, being down near the dug out touchline, and as Donaldson dropped his shoulder one way and was ready to set off the other Mooney sythed him down waist height. This needless booking would prove very costly later.
Chris Willcock made his first changes of the day on 72 minutes seeing Rodney and Jerome leaving the field and Rainford and Rowe replacing them, and on 80 minutes saw Donaldson finally given some respite from the constant attention from the hosts and he was replaced by Khalil Osi-Efa.
Recently introduced sub, Louis Rowe showed good footwork on 82 minutes in the area, and with Rainford begging for the pass which would leave him with a free hit at goal, decided to go alone and tried his luck only for the keeper to parry, this time the rebound was turned in by Evangelinos, and the game was now safe.
SKELMERSDALE 0 RAMSBOTTOM 3
On 86 minutes the Skelmersdale captain was given the un-welcome privilege of an early bath as another reckless challenge, this time on the Ramsbottom no11 led to a second yellow card. After a brief consultation with his assistant, the referee was happy this was the correct decision.
As the full time whistle was blown, Chris Willcock and his team can look back on a very well earned victory, a day when football won the war against the battle. Skelmersdale’s in your face approach did not intimidate or de-rail Ramsbottoms game plan, and the individual as well as team quality ensured the 3 points came back to the Riverside.
FULL TIME: SKELMERSDALE 0 RAMSBOTTOM 3
RAMS: Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran, Thompson, Ellison, Rodney (Rainford 75′), Bembo-Leta, Jerome (Rowe 75′), Donaldson (Osi-Efa 81′), Evangelios
Unused subs: Rother, Foulds.
Attendance – 118
Referee – Jake Topp