The feral growl of triumph that emenated from the throat of each Rams player at the final whistle followed by the sound celebratory banging of the changing room walls spoke eloquently of how much this win meant after a few trying weeks.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 3 SHEFFIELD FC 1
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 8 October 2016
FA Trophy Preliminary Round
The win and performance that went with it, although some distance from faultless, was more important than progression to the next round and accompanying financial reward – important though both of those are.
Inspired by an intriguing switch in positions ofr George Mannion and Matt Atherton, the Rams took advantage of uncertain defending by Sheffield to race into a three-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes.
Ahead after just three minutes when an impressive Ryan Salmon bustled into the box and squared the ball to Gareth Seddon to bustle in a scruffy goal the Rams went onto double their lead eight minutes later with a looping header by Atherton who then set up the chance for Ollie Crankshaw to drill the ball home at the far post.
At that early stage a comfortable stroll in the sun seemed to be on offer but this was to ignore the spirit and resilience of the visitors. Sam Finlaw dropped into the pocket and began to dominate – the ball finding him like a magnet and every pass accurate and asking of questions. A switch of wings by Atherton and Crankshaw produced no positive result and combined with a loss of shape and composure allowed Sheffield to build domination.
They spurned two inviting headers in the six-yard box from corners before a third corner fell invitingly onto the foot of Jamie Hadfield to reduce the arrears and the game was back on.
The Rams cause was not helped by the loss of Gareth Seddon to injury at half time and with some recurring faults reappearing – dwelling too long on the ball in dangerous defensive areas and scorning the easys pass much relied on the resistance of Luke Thompson and Paul Linwood to prevent a second Sheffield goal. There was more than a feeling that if that goal had come, a total Sheffield revival was on the card but the loss of the inspirational Finlaw to injury with 15 minutes left allowed the rams to regain some control.
Sheffield flooded forward with no little desperation and gaps began to appear leading to two comic moments that will last long in the memory when the Rams somehow declined to put the game to bed with the goal mouth so invitingly open that the keeper was almost walking into the back of the net to pick out the ball. First Ollie Crankshaw managed to fall into the path of Jake Cliffe’s sidefoot into an otherwise empty net following good work by Ryan Salmon. Then he combined with Salmon and set up Cliffe and almost leaning on the far post but the ball ballooned into the trees.
The Rams will now entertain Prescot Cables or Ossett Albion in the next round. Ossett are the opposition at the HWRS next Saturday in the league.
Ramsbottom United: Ashley Shenton, Bradley Roscoe, George Mannion, Sam Freakes, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Oliver Crankshaw, Damian Green, Ryan Salmon, Gareth Seddon (capt), Matt Atherton. Subs: Lee Botham (for Green 89mins), Jake Cliffe (for Atherton 78mins), Alex Meaney (for Seddon 45mins), Nat Taylor, Jack Cookson.
Sheffield FC: Stephen Hernandez, Jason Foster, Hafeez Hamzat, Ross Goodwin, Jamie Hadfield, Damian Magee, Matt Roney, Sam Finlaw (capt), Connor Hall, Pat Lindley, Alec Denton. Subs: Reece Treasure (for Finlaw 76mins), Daniel Ramsey, Lee Cooksey, James Gregory (for Magee 27mins), Jamie Ingram (for Hernandez 45mins).
Referee: Andrew Smith (Castleford)