November 24, 2013

Ramsbottom United produced a stunning performance of attacking football to blow away their visitors from west Lancashire.

The score-line in no way flattered the home side, as they even had the luxury of missing a penalty as, as they turned in a performance of fast and skilful football to totally outplay Burscough.

Joel Pilkington had fired an early warning shot when his effort sailed just over the visitors bar, but the onslaught started in the eighth minute when Danny Warrender found room in the area to power home a header from an Owen Roberts corner.

Lee Gaskell should have doubled the lead just two minutes later when a perfect cross from Dominic Smalley set him up, but he scooped the ball over the bar.

A further two minutes on, Gaskell successfully fought for a ball that looked like going out of play, but his close range effort was blocked for a corner.

Smalley then fired in a low drive that Tim Horn in the Burscough goal somehow managed to scramble over the bar, as the one-way traffic continued apace.

Grant Spencer fired just over from 25 yards, followed by Owen Roberts and Gaskell twice, as the home side continued to raid an over-worked defence.

So it was something of a surprise when, after 27 minutes, with their first sniff of goal, Burscough grabbed an equaliser. The ball fell kindly for Jordan Williams, six yards out, and he turned to place a drive across the face of goal and in by the far post.

That was as good as it got for the visitors, as the rest of the afternoon returned to the one-sided fare that had been enjoyed for the first 25 minutes.

Jordan Hulme fired just over the bar, whilst Gaskell placed a close range header from Smalley’s cross wide of the post.

The onslaught continued, and eventually turned into goals, as the Rams fired in three before the break to ensure that the points would remain at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

On 37 minutes, Smalley fed Hulme down the right, and his inch-perfect cross allowed Gaskell to side-foot the ball home from close range.

Two minutes later, a mirrored goal made it three. This time Roberts sped down the left before sending in a tempting low ball which had a number of Ramsbottom players race in. Joel Pilkington arrived first and slid the ball home, much to his delight.

With the referee looking at his watch, another corner, this time from Spencer, again found Warrender, and he bundled home his second and the Rams fourth of a fruitful first half.

There was no respite for the visitors as the onslaught continued throughout the second 45 minutes.

On 47 minutes, Hulme saw his well-placed header from a Spencer free-kick, turned round by Horn, and minutes later an audacious 30 yard lob from Gaskell clipped the top of the bar with Horn well beaten.

On 54 minutes it was five.

Spencer found space on the left, and his curling shot did the rest as Horn was once again beaten.

A free-kick from Roberts beat the wall, but once again had the over-worked Horn scrambling it to safety as Ramsbottom produced some exhibition football, that was a delight to watch.

Hulme was unlucky to see his perfectly executed volley from as Smalley cross sail into Horns arms, but on 66 minutes the keeper could do nothing to prevent the sixth goal going in.

The ball fell to Gaskell in midfield, and he raced goal-wards before flicking the ball into the path of Spencer who made no mistake from 15 yards.

A triple substitution almost notched a seventh.

Jon Robinson, with his first touch, had his feet taken from him by Horn, who was lucky to escape without a card, but fellow substitute Phil Dean, with his first touch, blazed the spot kick high and wide.

Horn then had to dash out of his goal, and as the ball broke to Smalley, he launched it towards the empty net only to see it curl inches wide of the far post.

On 74 minutes, Dean atoned for his penalty miss when he fired home from the corner of the box to complete the scoring.

A late flurry from the visitors almost created a consolation, but Grant Shenton, who had a quiet afternoon in the home goal, produced two superb close range stops in quick succession from Liam Caddick and Mark McLaughlin.

The final whistle blew on a stunning performance from a Ramsbottom side still full of running after an exhaustive ninety minutes, and a result that served as a warning to those clubs higher in the table who have played more games than the Rams.

On this evidence, the play-offs are certainly within the Rams’ grasp.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Lomax, Roberts, Stopforth, Warrender, Priestley, Smalley, Pilkington(Robinson 67mins), Gaskell(Brooks 67mins), Hulme(Dean 67mins), Spencer. Subs not used: Toth, Chadwick

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