FA Cup hopes ended in opener

Ramsbottom United were hoping to continue their positive start to their season with the visit of Liversedge, who play in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in this eagerly anticipated FA Cup tie at the HWRS.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2 LIVERSEDGE 3
Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Saturday 19 August 2017
Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 202

The home side, showing four changes to the starting line up from their midweek trip to Colwyn Bay started the match in encouraging fashion with debutant Tolani Omotola starting up front with Lee Gaskell looking to link up and cause the visitors some defensive problems.

Indeed it was the bustling Omotola that threatened early in the game with a surging run that showed some promise for the Rams.  The first shot of the contest arrived on nine minutes when a flowing move down the left hand side resulted in an effort that went wide from Gaskell.

The Ramsbottom midfield players were beginning to exert some influence on proceedings during the early stages of the contest.  The home side's confident start had some tangible success on the quarter hour mark when a superb pass from George Pierce found the hugely influential Jerome Wright who strode on towards the Liversedge goal before sending a shot into the visitors net to give the hosts a deserved lead despite a sliding visiting defender doing his best to keep the ball out of his goal.

This was the third time in three games this season that Ramsbottom United had taken the lead in the opening few minutes, proof if it was needed, that the team are starting matches off in decisive fashion.  In the previous two games of this season, the Rams had surrendered a lead and it was hoped that the side could avoid this reoccurring and take control of this cup tie.

It was the Rams that threatened just before the half hour mark when Omotola turned his defender before sending a vicious shot past visiting stopper Waggett before crashing off the cross bar and to safety to keep the lead to a single goal.

As the half continued the away side began to get more into the match and nullify Ramsbottom's threat with the lively looking Devonte Morton and the impressive Steve Wales testing the Rams defence more often.

Then with around ten minutes of the first half remaining a long straight ball down the middle of the pitch beat the Ramsbottom defence and found the aforementioned Morton who skipped around Fearon before rolling the ball into an empty net to level the contest and give the home support a familiar feeling as a promising start turned into parity.

It was Ramsbottom that ended the half on the front foot with Eddie Moran having an effort saved after an excellent cross from Richardson and the same player having a long range goal bound shot blocked by an outstretched leg of a Liversedge defender as the contest ended level at the break at 1-1.

With neither manager seeing fit to change their starting eleven, the match restarted with a good move down the left touchline from the visitors resulting in a shot which was saved comfortably by Rams custodian Fearon.

Ramsbottom United responded with a good move culminating in a blistering shot from Dean Stott which Waggett tipped over the crossbar as the home side looked to edge back in front.  From the resulting Wright corner, Lee Gaskell found some space before planting a well-placed header past Waggett and into the corner of the net to give the Rams a 2-1 lead ten minutes into the second period.  It should be noted that Jerome Wright has been involved in all but one of Ramsbottom's six goals to date this season and is proving to be an astute and hugely influential addition to the Ramsbottom side this term.

The home support were hopeful that the Rams could take the momentum garnered from Gaskell's goal and take the tie to the visitors and perhaps increase their lead, indeed George Pierce added to the home sides' shot tally by sending an effort narrowly wide of the target.

Home manager Mark Fell made a couple of changes midway through the half with Greg Daniels and Nathan Webb replacing Omotola and Pierce.

The match was finely poised and Liversedge responded with a couple of substitutions of their own to try and change the scoreline with some added height and physicality to the forward line.

These changes appeared to have the desired effect when Fearon was again called into action on two occasions to thwart the visitors as they pushed for an equaliser saving bravely at the feet of a visiting striker before again making an excellent save to ensure the Rams slender lead remained intact.

Perhaps the decisive substitution arrived with around ten minutes remaining when Liversedge forward Roy Foggarty entered the fray.  The Rams couldn't seem to keep possession of the ball to take the momentum away from the visitors and see their way into the next round of the world renowned cup competition.

Sadly these concerns were realised as on 89 minutes the aforementioned Foggarty worked some space on the edge of the penalty box before sending a shot past Fearon and into the net for a late equaliser for Liversedge.

As the Rams faithful were comtemplating a replay in West Yorkshire on Tuesday night, things would get worse as Foggarty again found room near the Rams' penalty area before repeating the trick and sending another shot past Fearon to win the tie in the 91st minute.

The collective disappointment from players, staff and supporters was palpable as the whistle blew on an unsuccessful assault on the FA Cup for this season.

Manager Mark Fell was understandable disappointed with the result and had the following to say after the match.  "It was a totally unacceptable performance from start to finish.

"We have worked tirelessly pre-season on how we play and the fact Liversedge sat off and gave us the ball for 80% of the play first half meant the lads saw it was a chance to retain without penetration - that's not us and instead of taking the game by the scruff of the neck second half, we looked like the Colwyn Bay game had taking all the legs out of us and full credit to Liversedge, they then came and took the game to us.

"The goals we conceded were abysmal from my perspective and I hope that gives us the shot in the arm required to prevent us being complacent in future.  Having said that I pick the team that crosses the white line and take full responsibility, we've two important sessions this now week to prepare for a big game on Saturday."

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Fearon, Stott, Brownhill, Moran, Thompson, Roscoe, Richardson (Meaney 79mins), Pierce (Webb 72mins), Omotola (Daniels 67mins), Gaskell, Wright.  Subs not used: Brooks, Heathcote, Rother, Williams.

COMING UP .....
Saturday 26th August - Evo-Stik North - Hyde United v Rams ... 3pm
Monday 28th August - Evo-Stik North - Rams v Radcliffe ... 3pm