Bet Victor Northern Premier League North West Division
Wednesday 1st January 2020
Trafford 1 Ramsbottom United 2
Report by Jon Haslam
With the festivities completed for another year and after their resounding 7-1 Boxing Day demolition of Mossley Ramsbottom United were on the road with a New Years Day visit to Shawe View hoping to begin the new decade as they had finished the last.
The starting eleven showed just one alteration from the previous outing with Jamie Rother returning in place of Luke Thompson, the change resulted in a new central defensive partnership with Richie Baker stepping in alongside Kelvin Lugsden with the ever reliable Rother returning to the Rams engine room.
The opening minutes of the contest were fairly uneventful and did little to liven up the assembled crowd on a murky afternoon until the visitors produced the first notable effort when good work down the left from Nic Evangelinos gave Reuben Jerome a sight of the target but the effort was blocked by a retreating Trafford defender.
Then with the encounter eleven minutes old the Rams would take the lead when a surging run and cross from full back from the ever impressive Reece Fishwick found top scorer Evanglinos and despite the forwards first effort being blocked by home stopper Matt Cooper the striker was alert enough to prod the ball over the line to have the honour of scoring Ramsbottom United first goal of the new decade.
A point worthy of note is that the Rams have only failed to find the net in one league game this term, a two nil defeat at Pontefract in late August.
Trafford then responded with their first effort on target when the lively looking Walters sent a skidding shot from distance but visiting keeper Tom Stewart gathered comfortably at his near post.
With the Mossley performance, one which live long in the memory still in the forefront of their minds the Rams supporters almost had a further goal to celebrate when just shy of the twenty minute mark good link up play down the left wing between skipper Tom Kennedy and Evangelinos saw Josh Hmami presented with a chance for the midfielder to continue his excellent recent form but again a home defender got in the way of the goal bound attempt .
As the contest continued towards the half hour mark both keepers were relatively untroubled but it was the visitors that carried the bigger threat with the left hand side proving a particularly fruitful area for the Rams with Kennedy and Evangelinos linking up on numerous occasions. With the Rams on top and looking to replicate some of their outstanding home form away from The Riverside the away side had a penalty claim rejected by referee Morland when livewire Evangelinos went down under a challenge but the official decreed no offence had been committed.
The remaining ten minutes of the first period belonged in the main to Trafford as they began to ask more questions of the Ramsbottom defence with raiding full back Kenny sending a cross to the far post where a white shirted home forward headed towards goal but the tame effort was dealt with comfortably by Stewart. The hosts then began exert some pressure by winning a series of free kicks in promising areas but thankfully the visitors kept their clean sheet intact.
With the half time break imminent home forward Walters set off through midfield towards the Rams penalty area before being fouled by Richie Baker in a promising position 20 yards from goal, the number five then picked up a caution for his troubles before Jordan Johnson’s well struck free kick evaded the flying Tom Stewart but clipped the woodwork before bouncing to safety and the visitors held a narrow advantage at the interval.
As the contest resumed Trafford started the second period with much more gusto than they had shown in the first half and created their clearest opportunity of the contest when a Rams free kick was cleared to Laurence Taylor who broke away beyond the retreating Rams rearguard and towards the edge of the penalty area before squaring the ball to an unmarked teammate who inexplicably with the goal gaping and just Tom Stewart to beat fired a shot into the side netting much to the relief of the away side.
The hosts then had their best period of the game when firstly a rasping effort from Darius Palma flew across the face of goal with no home player able to get a decisive touch before the hosts left wing again caused defensive flutters in the Ramsbottom backline after a well timed Lugsden clearance fell to Jake Kenny but the skimming effort flew wide of the target as the away side needed to be at their resolute best.
With Trafford visibly gaining in confidence and the Rams defence facing a thorough examination a couple of substitutions were made twenty minutes into the second period with Mason Fawns and Daniel Naidole replacing Karl Jones and Reuben Jerome respectively as manager Chris Willcock looked to alter the flow of the match.
Moments later and after a good piece of play from the Rams attacking midfield player Josh Hmami appeared to be tripped in the penalty area when he was about to shoot at goal but again the official turned away the loud appeals.
With Ramsbottom United being the highest scorers in the league hopes were high amongst the travelling Rams supporters that their side would be able to add to their slender lead and give them some breathing space as Trafford continued to look an attacking threat.
Trafford had replied with two changes of their own but it was the visitors who almost registered the second goal of the match when Nic Evanglinos burst beyond the home defence before the ball fell at the feet of Jamie Rother and the fans favourites delicate floated effort beat Cooper in the home goal but brushed the top of the bar, the substitutions certainly had the desired positive effect as the Rams began to play some progressive football whilst looking like an attacking threat.
Then, with fifteen minutes remaining the Rams doubled their lead when excellent skill and a clever pass from the increasingly influential Mason Fawns gave Nic Evangelinos a sight of goal and the prolific forward sent a well struck effort bursting into the roof of the net giving home keeper Cooper no chance as the visitors leading scorer added another goal to his seasons tally much to the delight of the majority of the Rams supporters congregated behind the goal.
As the minutes ticked away Trafford began to throw caution to the wind and in doing so left more space for the visitors to exploit and they almost did so on more than one occasion with Cooper called upon to make a fine save to deny Josh Hmami after a well constructed counter attack before a well flighted cross from the impressive Eddie Moran found goalscorer Evangelinos at the far post who then cleverly headed back across goal to Hmami but the header bounced agonisingly wide of the target.
With three points looking probable and additional time being played and at a time of year songs about old acquaintances being forgot are particularly relevant an ex Ramsbottom United player recently arrived from the subs bench halved the deficit for Trafford when Max Hazeldine got off the mark for his new side by firing in an impressive goal from distance to give the day trippers a nervous couple of minutes to negotiate.
The final incident of the contest came with only seconds remaining when Trafford won a dangerous looking free kick tight to the byline and with temperatures plummeting the heart rate of the Ramsbottom supporters was increasing but mercifully the set piece was cleared to safety and the referees whistle brought proceedings to a conclusion and a three point haul to start the New Year for Chris Willcock’s men.
As players, management and supporters acknowledged a valuable victory it is worth making mention that since the arrival of the versatile Richie Baker some nine games ago the Rams haven’t tasted defeat whilst winning six of those matches, a coincidence? I think not.
As the half way stage of the league season was reached Ramsbottom United are handily placed in third position for a promotion push and hopes are high that the second half of the season could well eclipse the first.
Ramsbottom United:- Stewart, Fishwick, Kennedy (Capt), Moran, Baker, Lugsden, Jones(Fawns 64mins) , Rother, Jerome (Naidole 64 mins), Hmami (Daniels 89 mins) Evangelinos
Subs not used- Thompson & Hampson.