Rams cruise through in Cup replay

After the late but deserved reprieve at Stocksbridge on Saturday, Ramsbottom United comfortably cruised into the next round of the FA Cup with a comprehensive victory on Tuesday night.

The home side played some attractive passing football, as they rarely looked troubled by their higher league opponents.

The three goal margin saw off Stocksbridge, although the visitors could have taken an early lead when a mis-directed back header from Andy Dawson had keeper Grant Shenton scrambling for the ball before a Steels forward could poke it home.

That aside, Shenton had a quiet evening as the hosts continued to take the game to their opponents.

Dominic Smalley’s fine run and goal-bound shot took a wicked deflection off a team-mate to the relief of Steels, before the industrious Grant Spencer foraged 40 yards before firing inches wide.

Smalley’s well-directed cross found Joel Pilkington, whose flick on to Phil Dean saw the winger fail to find the target with his head.

It was almost one-way traffic, and it came as no surprise when the Rams took the lead on 23 minutes.

Pilkington’s race into the area was unceremoniously halted just outside the box. Owen Roberts lined up the free-kick and planted it firmly past the wall and in by the left-hand post.

In a rare attack, Steel’s Matthew Hamshaw placed a free-kick over the bar, but at the other end Smalley’s fine run ended with an effort easily gathered by Jack Ward in the visitors’ goal.

Smalley was then denied, again, this time when he was inches away from connecting with a Gary Stopforth cross.

The need for a second goal to kill the game off was discussed at half-time, and it took just five minutes of the second half for that to happen.

A superb floated ball into the area from Owen Roberts saw Lee Gaskell sneak behind the defenders to flick the ball home by the near post.

Danny Warrender then headed a corner over before grabbing the home side’s third on the hour mark.

He gathered the ball outside the area, before racing past a static defence to place the ball under the body of the advancing keeper, and put the game out of reach of the Yorkshiremen.

The visitors did have a couple of opportunities to get on the score-sheet.

Substitute Alec Denton found space in the right hand side of the penalty area, but instead of firing goalwards, he chose to pass the ball to a colleague, giving Dawson the opportunity to clear.

Alex Callery then beat the offside trap, but Shenton, on a night when he was under-worked, came flying off his line to throw his body in front of the ball, and the danger was cleared.

Jon Robinson could have added a fourth in the final minutes, but as he broke through, he fired straight at Ward.

A fine team performance, marred only by the sight of influential skipper being carried off late on with an ankle injury, sees the Rams looking forward to a trip to former League side Barrow in the next round of the FA Cup.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Pilkington, Stopforth, Dawson(Toth 79mins), Robinson, Smalley(Flannery 64mins), Spencer, Gaskell, Roberts(Brooks 70mins), Dean. Subs not used: Prickett, Morley, Hulme