Late Dean strike forces Cup replay

A penalty scored with virtually the last kick of the game, prevented what would have been a travesty of a score-line.

In a game totally dominated by the Rams, they entered the third and final minute of time added on wondering just how they were losing a game they had totally controlled.

One final foray into the Stocksbridge area saw Gary Stopforth go down, followed by the referee pointing to the spot and issuing a red card to Matthew Telling for apparently going in with his studs showing.

Phil Dean, who had unusually missed a penalty at Ossett Albion the previous Tuesday, strode forward and confidently beat Jack Ward in the home goal from twelve yards to ensure a replay, which was the least the visitors deserved from this performance.

Ramsbottom had started brightly with Grant Spencer firing inches over from 20 yards in the first minute.

After Will Senior had headed wide at the other end, the Rams took the lead on 11 minutes.

Joel Pilkington swept an angled pass into the area, and Dominic Smalley gathered the ball, before turning his man and firing home a curling left-footed shot from 15 yards.

Danny South was off target with a header as the home side searched for an equaliser, before being gifted one in the 22nd minute.

Jon Robinson and Steels’ South both went for a ball in the area, and South went down after what could only be described as an innocuous attempt to get the ball, but the referee pointed to the spot, and Nathan Joynes duly converted the penalty.

Two minutes later, Steels were inches away from taking the lead when a thunderous drive by Telling rattled the crossbar with Grant Shenton well beaten.

Senior then raced into the Rams box but screwed the ball wide, as an evenly-matched game reached the thirty minute mark. From then on, however, there was only one team in it.

Stopforth had an attempt blocked, Jordan Hulme created space on the right but his low cross was scrambled away, then Hulme again broke through, but instead of shooting, looked to feed his forward partner Lee Gaskell and the chance was gone.

Another Hulme cross was nicked off Gaskell’s toes for a corner, before yet another corner found Andy Dawson, but his header clipped the top of the bar.

The visitors ended the first half in the ascendancy, but in the second half, it was virtual one-way traffic.

Gaskell and Hulme again linked up, but as Hulme took the ball wide, he could only hit the foot of the post as he tried to screw the ball back.

Hulme then fed Gaskell with a low cross from the right, but with an open goal at his mercy, the latter could not direct the ball home.

Gaskell was then fed by Dean with an inch perfect cross. Last season’s leading scorer powered in a header only to see it somehow clawed away when a goal looked certain.

Substitute Owen Roberts had only been on the pitch a couple of minutes when his fierce drive stung the hands of Ward. Dean had his mazy run stopped by Brett Bowden-Lovell who received a yellow card for his trouble, and Roberts resulting free-kick was diverted for a corner.

Grant Spencer then sent over a perfect long cross which found Dean, but he misjudged his kick and it sailed harmlessly away.

Somehow the home defence had managed to keep out the marauding Rams when, as so often happens, the dominant side was struck a killer blow.

Dawson and Ian Flannery failed to deal with a rare ball at the back, and it was swept out to the left hand side of the Steels attack. There it was met with perfect timing by Chris White who volleyed in a tremendous effort from the corner of the area, which flew past the under-worked Shenton and into the car corner.

Despite this set-back, the Rams continued to take the game to their hosts. Hulme was denied by the legs of Ward, whilst Dawson headed just wide from another in a series of corners, as the home side struggled to maintain a lead they had not deserved.

Just when it looked like they had managed it came the last minute drama.

The draw was the least the visitors deserved against opponents from a higher division, and so the tie continues at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night with a 7.45pm kick-off.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Pilkington, Stopforth, Dawson, Robinson(Roberts 63mins), Smalley(Flannery 63mins), Spencer, Gaskell, Hulme(Brooks 88mins), Dean. Subs not used: Toth, Prickett, Morley