Do not expect to read here words describing a plucky cup performance by a lower league team playing out of their skin and nearly embarrassing their more illustrious visitors. That was not the performance given by the Rams on Saturday.

Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 26 November 2016
BuildBase FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Attendance: 318

Nor should be expected an account of a comfortable performance that saw a team from two divisions above play within themselves and ease their way into the next round of the FA Trophy.  As well deservedas this win was for Telford it was never less than hard earned, keenly contested and only put beyond doubt with eight minutes left with a goal of sufficient quality to settle any game at any level.

Because the truth is that the Rams did not raise their game to any material degree. They played with the same composure, organisation and commitment that has marked their performances in recent weeks and it was enough for them to match Telford and look like a team, or more to the point and slightly ominously a preferred starting XI, capable of performing at a higher level.

So while it may seem perverse to suggest it this defeat, in its manner, was in some ways the best performance of the season so far because it demonstrated the strides that have been made that with good fortune and an absence of injuries should provide a launchpad to the upper reaches of the NPL Division 1 North.

Telford, big at front and at the back, small and nimble in midfield, dominated possession and territorial advantagebut at no stage exerted any domination over a Rams team which kept its shape and defended calmly keeping the play in front of them.

Jack Rea and Jon Royle working in tandem in the Telford midfield alternating between forward thrusts and defensive covering kept the home team at bay for the first 30 minutes.  Only a penchant for over elaboration prevented them from turning their advantage on the pitch to the scoreboard and as it was forays into the Rams box were sporadic withCharlieAlbinson largely untroubled.

Slowly but surely the tigerish tackling of Alex Meaney and astute interceptions and distribution by Grant Spencer brought the Rams more into the game.  Gareth Seddon and Damian Green realigned their radar and three times threatened to unhinge the Telford defence down the right, first setting up Meaney whose low shot from the edge of the box was on its way in until deflected, then finding Ryan Salmon who headed over and then releasing Green who put just too much force into a shot which thus went just over the bar.

Spencer had received a knock just before the break and only lasted a few minutes after the resumption. With his departure went much of the Rams cutting edge and with it came an extended period of Telford ascendancy.

Even so they were unable to create any clear open endings until just after the hour.  Josh Wilson found space on the right edge of the box and essayed a low cross shot which Albinson did well to deflect wide.  From the corner the ball fell with no little fortune onto the foot of Connor MacCarthy who forced home from close range.

The Rams made changes but to nogreat effect struggling to manufacture any clear openings – the impact of attacking options from the bench is or should be a concern. Even so Telford had noscope for complacencyand, showing the respect the Rams efforts deserved, somewhat reined in their own attacking efforts. 

Any hope of a Rams revival evaporated with eight minutes left. The ball again fell to Wilson this time centrally placed but a good 35 yards out. His languid swish of his foot at the ball at first seems speculativeuntil it became apparent that contact between foot and ball had been sublime in impact and timing sending it as if dispatched by the mighty Orion arrow straight and with irresistible force into the top corner.

Such was the majesty of the shot that there was a double take even from the scorer before wheeling away and accepting the congratulations of his team mates.

Ramsbottom United: Charlie Albinson, Dean Stott, Joshua Askew, Alex Meaney, Luke Thompson, Paul Linwood, Damian Green, Grant Spencer, Ryan Salmon, Gareth Seddon (capt), Matt Atherton.  Subs: Lee Botham, Sam Freakes (for Spencer 52mins), Olly Crankshaw (for Atherton 69mins), Bradley Roscoe (for Green 79mins), Nat Taylor.

AFC Telford United: James Montgomery, Dwayne Samuels, Joe Kearns, Luca Havern (capt), Paul McCone, Jack Rea, Josh Wilson, John Paul Kissock, Dave Hibbert, Connor McCarthy, Jon Royle.  Subs: Ben Bailey (for Hibbert 85mins), Joe Fitzpatrick (for Kissock 80mins), Dan Preston, Danny Reynolds (for McCarthy 72mins), Andy Pryce.

Referee: Darren Strain (Runcorn)

PICTURES (by club photographer Frank Crook)

to be published ……

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