FA Trophy 1st Round

Saturday 15th December 2018



Report by Jon Haslam

This FA Trophy First Round tie took place on a blustery and rainy Saturday afternoon in West Cumbria as Ramsbottom United took to the road to Workingtons wonderfully traditional Borough Park Stadium after being drawn away from home for the fifth consecutive time in this seasons FA Trophy competition.

The visitors starting eleven showed just two changes from the victory seven days earlier at Kidsgrove with Ruben Jerome replacing the cup tied Jamie Rainford up front and Simon Woodford slotting into central defence at the expense of the unavailable Kelvin Lugsden.

With conditions looking very likely to have a bearing on proceedings the opening ten minutes were fairly even with both teams finding it difficult to have any attacking fluidity to their play but with the strong wind in the home sides favour the visitors would need to be at their resolute best as they attempted to continue their superb recent defensive record of conceding just two goals in the last seven away matches in all competitions.

It would be Workington that perhaps just about edged the early possession stats as the contest was developing into a midfield tussle with both teams quickly coming to the conclusion that free flowing football would be something for another day as the home side appeared to be looking for longer passes behind the Rams defence to try and supply the pacey wingers in Holt and Tinnion.

The away side flickered into life from an attacking perspective just after the quarter hour mark when Nic Evangelinos linked up well with Tom Kennedy but the cross eluded the onrushing attackers.

A look at the league standings showed that the hosts were next to bottom of the league above the Rams, so, with home advantage the Reds supporters would be hoping that the higher rank side would show their superiority but as the half progressed there was no obvious sign of the two sides plying their trade in different divisions.

Workington began to garner more of the possession as the half hour was reached but the Ramsbottom United defence, which incidentally showed a third different central defensive partnership in the last three matches were ensuring that any goal scoring efforts were conspicuous by their absence as Sam Ashton in the visitors goal was untroubled, indeed the only attempt towards goal was a low effort from the Reds midfielder Cowperthwaite which flew comfortably wide of the target.

With the conditions worsening and with the rain slanting down the Rams had their first effort at goal when Nic Evangelinos went on a purposeful run towards the edge of the Workington box but his left footed effort failed to trouble Taylor in the home goal and with almost 40 goalless minutes played neither side had forced the opposing goal keeper into serious action.

As half time approached Ramsbottom United would produce their most threatening moment of the first period when a fine through ball found the quicksilver Nialle Rodney whose surging run centrally towards the Workington goal caused concern in the home defence but the wide mans right footed shot towards goal was well blocked by an outstretched leg of a retreating defender and the first 45 minutes finished with the scores level.

After the restart, and with the wind in the Rams favour the visitors began the second half positively and within ten minutes had without question the best opportunity of the match when Evangelinos found himself advancing in on goal after a goal kick had held up in the wind but the wingers shot was smothered by Taylor in the home goal.

Minutes later the away side again showed their ever increasing attacking threat when a sumptuous threaded pass from Jamie Rother connected with the run of Evangelinos in the left hand channel but again the Workington rearguard were on hand to block the promising attack.

With Ramsbottom United never having won at Borough Park the home side were finding it difficult to fashion any chances that could be categorised as clear cut, in a rare moment of concern for the visitors around the hour point a corner was cleared to the edge of the penalty are but the resultant effort flew over the top of the crossbar.

Chris Willcock then utilised his bench for the one and only time at the three quarter point of the encounter when Khalil Osi-Efa replaced the hard working Jamie Rother as fresh legs were introduced to the central midfield.

On an increasingly heavy surface not conducive to good football it was becoming more and more apparent that either a mistake or set piece would be the most likely route to settling a competitive cup tie.

Amazingly the Rams have only been behind once in the last seven fixtures away from the HWRS, this being earlier in the FA Trophy run at Yaxley where the match ended two goals apiece.

Then, with 75 minutes played the Rams almost struck the first blow of the cup tie when a surging run from Anthony Donaldson was halted around 20 yards from goal in a promising position just to the left of the “D” of the penalty area, Nic Evangelinos struck the free kick well but the diving Taylor got a finger tip to the goal bound effort and the ball clipped the outside of the post to deny the day trippers a lead their second half pressure warranted.

With the contest entering the closing stages and the Rams looking to continue their magnificent run of ten away fixtures without defeat in all competitions, the last being at the hands of Leek Town exactly three months to the day ago, the hosts responded by making all three substitutions in an attempt to change the course of a full blooded skirmish but without notable success as the Ramsbottom defence was again superb to a man with Ryan Ellison again showing his versatility with an eye catching display at right back.

A point worthy of note is that the Rams have clocked up almost 950 miles on their FA Trophy adventure this season and were in no mood to exit the competition as they continued to believe that they could grab the all important and deciding goal whilst being mindful not to give Workington any attacking encouragement.

The central defensive combination of the ever combative Luke Thompson and debutant Simon Woodford made a nonsense of this being their first match together as they contained the threat of Jason Walker and Scott Allison splendidly, the latter being in fine form with four goals from his last five appearances.

With goal scoring chances at a premium for the remainder of the contest and the swirling wind often making any hope of free flowing football very difficult the Rams negotiated the three minutes of additional time the referee had indicated and deservedly earned a replay against their higher ranked opposition. After the final whistle had blown the players and travelling supporters showed their mutual appreciation of each others efforts in challenging circumstances by exchanging warm rounds of applause which were fully earned as Chris Willcock’s outfit again exhibited another side of their teams characteristics with a battling display that could and maybe should have seen the Rams leave Cumbria victorious.

Both sides will be aware of the prize on offer for the winners of the replay on Tuesday night as the draw for the next round is due to be made on Monday afternoon.and for the first time in the clubs 52 year history will proudly take their place in the Second Round draw of the FA Trophy alongside Workington.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison, Moran ,Thompson, Woodford, Rodney, Rother (Osi-Efa 65 mins), Jerome, Donaldson, Evangelinos.

Unused Subs- Rowe, Parker, Hart, Jarrett

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