REPORT & PHOTOS: Cup Heartbreak for the Rams

Report by Aaron Benson

The Rams made two changes to the side that held Mosley to a weekend draw only three days previous. Luke Jordan and Dean Stott were recalled with Tom Brooks and Nathan Brown missing out on a place in the starting eleven.

On a cold early Autumn night down at the Riverside, Rammy came out fighting starting the game firmly on the front foot. In the opening minute, Jamie Rother hit the post with a stinging shot and shortly after, Jerome Wright had a shot saved when through on goal.

The early exchanges set the tone for the night as Rammy huffed and puffed for an opening goal. However it was Kidsgrove who had the ball in the net in the twenty sixth minute. The Rams defensive line held firm when Anthony Malbon lobbed Sam Ashton in the Rams goal, yet referee Ben Wyatt adjudged the Kidsgrove number ten to be in an offside position.

Yet Rammy didn’t let Kidsgrove growing presence in the game hinder them as they continued to create chances. Ryan Ellison missed the target with a header and a Jack Higgs shot also failed to test the keeper.

HT: Rammy 0-0 Kidsgrove

Ramsbttom again began the second half like they started the first and were rewarded with their efforts when Wright won a penalty under a challenge from Kidsgrove midfielder Rhys Thompson on the hour mark. However Wright failed to convert the penalty and sent his shot wide.

Yet the drama continued to unfold ten minutes later. Thompson again went into a challenge on Rams captain Dean Stott which concluded with the midfielder being given his marching orders and left the visitors a man down.

The home side continued to huff and puff as extra time loomed. Left back Phil Dean sent in several dangerous crosses which with any contact from a Rams player would have put them ahead. Then in injury time substitute Ben Deegan could have won the game, only for his effort to have been charged down by the ever strong Kidsgrove defence and blocked by Kurasik between the sticks.

FT: Rammy 0-0 Kidsgrove

Extra time began with now complete darkness and another wave of Rams attacks. Midfielder Rother saw two chances go amiss and number nine Lee Gaskell’s attempt also failed to burst the net. Despite the missed opportunities, the home side played the ball around with much confidence and posed constant threats from wide areas throughout the game. Full backs Dean and Henry grew into the game and their crosses proved tough to handle for the Kidsgrove back line.

Extra Time HT: Rammy 0-0 Kidsgrove

The final fifteen minutes began with Kidsgrove enjoying their best chances of the replay. Malbon forced Ashton into doubles saves as the Kidsgrove striker proved their greatest threat all game. He could have won it at the death after twisting and turning past several blue shirts however failed to test Ashton this time around and the opportunity came and went.

Between Malbon’s near misses Rammy continued to pose a threat at the other end having arguably the best chance of the game. From a Wright corner, Gaskell failed to make the most of the free space he had and failed to head home from an inviting ball delivered by Rammy’s left winger.

Extra Time FT: Rammy 0-0 Kidsgrove

With no goals in either normal or extra time, the game went to twelve-yard kicks in order to determine a winner.

The visitors took an early advantage leading 2-1 after three penalties. Adam Freeland and Peter Williams scored for the men in lime green yet only Rother could convert for Rammy with Gaskell and Wright both unable to score the first two spot kicks.

The pendulum swung in Rammy’s favour during the fourth wave of kicks as Phil Dean leveled up the scores after Malbon failed to put Kidsgrove 3-1 up.

Rumemio Barai kept his cool to put Kidsgrove 3-2 ahead meaning skipper Dean Stott had to score his penalty to take the shootout to sudden death. Sadly it wasn’t to be for the Rams and Kidsgrove progressed to the next round of the cup on Saturday in a game against Atherton Colliers.

Despite the disappointing defeat, Rams boss Mark Fell remained positive and praised the performance of the team.

“I’m proud of the lads who took the penalties. To be honest I’m proud of the way we played, we continued to do the right things’.

‘We didn’t have the cutting edge, but some nights this happens. We have a free weekend, which we didn’t plan for but we’ll work for Kendal next week. If we create this many chances, we’ve got a great chance to win that game”.

‘Points wise we’re in a good position and squad wise I think we’re in a much better position than we were last season’.

‘The message from me to the players is we go again and stick together as a team. That’s all we can do’.

Ramsbottom starting eleven: Ashton, Dean, Henry, Stott, Thompson, Ellison, Jordan, Rother, Gaskell, Higgs, (Deegan 69’), Wright

Unused subs: Brooks, Hart, Robertson

Photos by Frank Crook