FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round

Tuesday 13th November 2018


Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United embarked on a 300 mile round trip to Cambridgeshire on Tuesday evening to take on Evo Stik Southern league side Yaxley as the clubs FA Trophy adventure continued at the wonderfully named Leading Drove Ground.

The visitors showed just a single alteration to their starting eleven from their previous fixture at Prescot Cables a week ago with Anthony Donaldson replacing the cup tied Joel Bembo-Leto in midfield as the Rams looked to continue their excellent recent form of five successive victories in all competitions.

The hosts began the contest strongly as they looked to take advantage of home surroundings with the familiarity of the 3G surface and the visitors having to endure a punishing journey of over 3 hours conditions that were clearly in the home sides favour.

With barely a minute on the clock Yaxley almost made the ideal start when a quick breakaway lead to the first attempt at goal but the effort flew wide of the diving Sam Ashton and thankfully past the post.

Unfortunately Ramsbottom United would fall behind on the quarter hour mark when an incisive through ball from Butterworth sent Matt Sparrow running through one on one with Sam Ashton and the Cuckoo’s leading scorer confidently notched his 12th goal of the campaign as the Rams conceded their first goal in 462 minutes.

Despite the early setback the visitors started to get more possession of the ball as they began to get to grips with the surface as the left sided duo of Kennedy and Evangelinos in particular linked up dangerously on a number of occasions but a series of crosses into the penalty area couldn’t find a Ramsbottom United player and were repelled by the Yaxley rearguard.

The Rams fashioned their first shot on target with half an hour played when a neat passage of play gave Ruben Jerome the chance to test home stopper Sutton although the strikers effort from outside the area was comfortably gathered but confidence appeared to be growing as the game continued to be an open affair.

With half time approaching and with Yaxley holding a narrow advantage the travellers from Lancashire perhaps created their best opportunity to equalise when more good play down the left hand side gave Kennedy the chance to hit a low cross which Sutton mishandled and with Evangelinos on hand to send the ball goal wards an outstretched foot from a defender denied the visitors a chance to go into the break on level terms.

The early moments of the second period began with both sides trading efforts at goal with the tricky Anthony Donaldson shooting over the crossbar before the hosts replied with a couple of attempts of their own as both teams began the half with attacking intent.

Ramsbottom United then began to take control of the tussle as both Nialle Rodney and Kyle Jacobs linked up well down the right wing as the away side continued to have a threat down both flanks as the Rams began to threaten the hosts narrow load, indeed Ruben Jerome almost drew the sides level but his low drive looked to have beaten Sutton but the effort clipped the outside of the post.

Not to be denied Ramsbottom United drew level just before the hour point when a strong run to the byline from the twinkled-toed Rodney gave the wide man the chance to pick out the onrushing Jerome who side footed into the net from close range to give the striker his fourth goal in his last four matches.

With confidence clearly coursing through the team things would get even better for the Rams just five minutes later when an incisive breakaway gave the increasingly influential Rodney chance to run at the retreating Yaxley defence before passing to Donaldson whose clever flick found the unmarked Evangelinos and the recent recruit confidently slipped the ball past Sutton to notch his third goal in his last three outings and the game had been deservedly turned on its head in a scintillating five minute spell much to the delight of the hardy band of Rams supporters who had made the trip.

A point worthy perhaps worthy of note is that Ramsbottom United have scored two or more goals in seven out of the last eight outings, a stat which indicates the attacking prowess Chris Willcock’s side are continuing to show since the recent appointment some six weeks ago.

Sadly one of footballs most well worn clichés came to fruition as no sooner had the Rams taken the lead than Yaxley won a free kick which was played into the visitors box from the left hand side and as the defence struggled to clear the ball fell kindly to home forward Tom Waumsley whose effort from ten yards found the back of the net to restore parity at two goals each.

The Rams were putting in an excellent second half showing with the hard working midfield duo of Eddie Moran an Jamie Rother putting in their usual high levels of commitment as the visitors continued to look a goal scoring threat and almost regained the lead on 73 minutes when a Tom Kennedy free kick found the head of our travel companion for the day Luke Thompson whose header across goal found Nialle Rodney six yards from goal but the header was straight at Sutton.

A series of corners and free kicks for the visitors couldn’t bring any reward but Yaxley were by no means out of the equation and continued to threaten the Rams defence on the counter attack without seriously threatening Sam Ashton in the final ten minutes or so.

With time ticking away the Rams continued to push forward looking for the decisive fifth goal and as in recent weeks the team continued to look strong in the latter stages of matches and with almost the final action of the night the visitors almost claimed victory when another penetrating attack opened up the Yaxley defence and despite three players having efforts at goal none of them could scramble the ball home and the contest ended even at 2-2.

As the final whistle sounded at the end of an entertaining match the Ramsbottom United players, staff and fans showed their mutual appreciation for each others efforts on a difficult night in which most present would not be getting back home until around 1am.

The result would dictate that Yaxley will have to undertake the gruelling midweek trip to Lancashire as the two sides will reconvene for a replay at the Riverside Stadium next Tuesday night with the winners due to travel to Pickering Town in the next round of the competition.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran ,Thompson, Ellison, Rodney, Rother, Jerome, Donaldson (Rowe 88 mins) Evangelinos

Unused Subs- Osi-Efa, Jarrett, Foulds, Dwyer (GK)

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