Evo-Stik West Division

Saturday 23th February 2019



Report by Jon Haslam

On a Spring like Saturday afternoon Ramsbottom United returned to Shawe View, the venue of the first victory under the management of Chris Willcock, a 2-1 FA Trophy win back in mid October which was the beginning of a never to be forgotten run in the competition for all connected with the Rams.

After Tuesday nights resounding six nil triumph at Newcastle Town the visitors showed three changes to their starting line up with Jamie Rother, Kieran Lugsden and Ruben Jerome replacing Khalil Osi-Efa, Tom Schofield and Iyrwah Gooden.

With hosts Trafford tucked in eighth position prior to kick off a closely fought encounter was predicted on an impressive looking surface which from the sidelines appeared conducive to good football. Indeed the opening exchanges began in lively fashion with the first chance of the match falling to the visitors when hotshot Jamie Rainford received a pass from Nic Evangelinos before his goal bound effort was blocked by the home defence but served notice that the day trippers were determined to continue their exceptional recent form.

Trafford replied in kind with an opening foray forward down the right wing which resulted in a effort which bobbled wide of Sam Ashtons goal from ex Ramsbottom forward Danny Wilkins.

After an opening ten minutes which could best be described as hard fought the first moment of note arrived when a mix up in the visitors defence allowed home wideman Liam Ellis to almost capitalise on some unusually hesitant defending and as the Trafford player looked to have nicked the ball round the onrushing Ashton before going to ground there was a collective holding of breath from the Ramsbottom contingent but thankfully referee Porter decreed that the hosts number eleven hadn’t won a penalty for his side and issued a yellow card for simulation.

Whilst there was plenty of endeavour from both teams the respective goalkeepers were relatively untroubled as the half wore on but the Rams perhaps looked the most likely to make the breakthrough but couldn’t quite click from an attacking perspective and at the thirty minute point the game was goalless.

With half time less than ten minutes away Ramsbottom United struck the opening goal of the contest when some excellent link up play down the right wing between Rainford and full back Kyle Jacobs which lead to the latter finding some space to send in an inviting cross to the far post which landed perfectly into the path of the clubs leading scorer Nic Evangelinos who beat Cooper in the Trafford goal with a low shot to register his nineteenth goal of a hugely impressive season

Four minutes later and the advantage would be doubled when livewire Evangelinos was tripped just outside the penalty area, up stepped free kick expert and former Bury and Rochdale full back Tom Kennedy to send a sweetly struck left footed effort from 20 yards out which perfectly evaded the defensive wall before beating the diving Cooper and finding the top corner of the net to send the away supporters into raptures as their favourites took a lead they ultimately wouldn’t surrender.

The two quickfire goals in a four minute period had given the visitors the upper hand but Trafford looked to respond immediately when a corner on the stroke of half time almost halved the deficit but the free header sailed wide of the target to serve notice that the Ramsbottom rear guard would need to be at their resolute best to keep the hosts at bay. The last action of the first period saw Jamie Rainford burst through towards the edge of the Trafford area before firing wide of the target but as the referee blew for half time the Rams held a warranted two goal lead.

After the interval the visitors who were coursing with confidence almost increased their advantage further when a bustling run from Ruben Jerome took the forward inside the Trafford penalty area before a low shot was tipped wide of the target by Cooper as the away side looked to put the result beyond question.

With Ramsbottom United two goals to the good the opening fifteen minutes of the second half were played out without much incident and with goalscoring chances at a premium for both sides the visitors were doing a professional job of protecting their advantage restricting Trafford to a well worked move down the left which resulted in a scuffed effort that Sam Ashton easily dealt with.

As the contest reached the three quarters mark the away side made their first alteration of the contest when Iyrwah Gooden entered the fray at the expense of Ruben Jerome with Jamie Rainford moving to a more familiar central striking role. Shortly after the change hearts were fluttering somewhat in the visitors ranks when Sam Ashton came hurtling out of his penalty area to clear up an overhit through ball from the hosts and as the goalkeeper was in unfamiliar territory his clearance only found a white shirted Trafford player who sent a shot goalwards but the recovering Rams defenders spared any potential blushes for their keeper and shepherded the ball to safety.

After that warning the Rams set about ensuring that their afternoon would be a fruitful one as they created a couple of presentable opportunities with perhaps the best falling to midfield dynamo Jamie Rother who, after a corner had been cleared to the edge of the Trafford penalty area fired in a shot which evaded the onrushing defenders before narrowly missing the target.

With a sense of symmetry Ramsbottom United would strike with precision twice in a four minute period for the second time in the encounter to put the result beyond any doubt, firstly on 73 minutes a threaded pass from the aforementioned Rother found Jamie Rainford who twisted one way and then the other before slaloming past two defenders and entering the penalty box before sidestepping another Trafford defender and confidently sending a precise low shot past the outstretched dive of Cooper and into the bottom corner for the forwards tenth league goal in a Ramsbottom shirt. Also worth noting is that the hard working striker has scored in five consecutive league games amassing seven goals in that period proving yet again what a vital addition the forward has been to the Ramsbottom ranks.

With the three points looking guaranteed Chris Willcock utilised his bench with a double change as Rainford and the tireless Eddie Moran were replaced by Jason Carey and Tony Donaldson respectively.

The fourth and final Ramsbottom United goal arrived after Kieran Lugsden almost scored from a well hit shot but Cooper in the home goal was equal to the effort palming the ball wide, although the relief was short-lived as the resultant corner from Tom Kennedy evaded the hosts keepers attempt to punch the ball to safety and Lugsden nodded into an unguarded net for his second goal for the Rams whilst confirming another vital three points.

For the remaining quarter of an hour a demoralised Trafford outfit continued to search for a consolation goal but ultimately without success as Sam Ashton was protected in fine fashion by the miserly Rams defence.

A point that surely cannot be ignored is that amazingly Ramsbottom United have not fallen behind in any away league match since Chris Willcocks first away outing which was a one each draw at Widnes on the 9th of October. Since that match the side have embarked on a run of eight consecutive away games in which they have tasted victory with an aggregate goal tally of 28 goals scored and just one against (In the 3-1 win at Market Drayton).

The final chances of the game were exchanged in the final ten minutes as firstly a well struck shot for the hosts from the edge of the penalty area flew wide of the Rams goal before Tony Donaldson almost made it two goals in two games but after a well worked move the young midfielders effort was well saved by Cooper in the home goal.

As the referee blew the full time whistle Ramsbottom United had completed a well deserved victory whilst perhaps not being at their fluent best, nevertheless such have been the high standards of recent performances that a comprehensive four goal win against a team that sat just two places below the Rams prior to kick off ensured the travelling support had another away result and performance to be immensely proud of.

A look at the league table after the match showed the Rams in a play off place which rounds off a superb seven days which has seen the team garner nine points from the three games played in that period alongside a goal haul of eleven with none conceded as the Rams play off impetuous gathers momentum ahead of Tuesday nights eagerly anticipated visit of Colne at the HWRS.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran (Donaldson 74 mins ) Thompson, Kelvin Lugsden, Rainford (Carey 74 mins), Rother, Jerome (Gooden 64 mins), Kieran Lugsden, Evangelinos

Unused Subs- Ellison, Osi-Efa

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