REPORT: Rams 2 Pickering Town 1

FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay

Tuesday 27th November 2018

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED 2 PICKERING TOWN 1

Attendance-117

Report by Jon Haslam

Ramsbottom United and Pickering Town took to the field in this FA Trophy third qualifying round replay at The Riverside after a competitive, yet goalless meeting on Saturday knowing that the prize on offer would be a visit to Workington in the first round proper of this popular cup competition.

Both starting elevens showed just a single alteration from the weekend with Luke Thompson returning in central defence at the expense of Khalil Osi-Efa for the home side with Lund starting in place of the injured Bissett for the visitors.

The opening moments of the match began in lively fashion with Pickering almost taking the lead after just three minutes when a speculative attempt from around 25 yards by Taylor struck the woodwork with Ashton motionless, this would serve notice that the away side fancied making progress in a cup competition they were participating in for the first time.

With the contest having an open feel to it the Rams began putting some pressure on the Pickering goal but needed to be wary of the counter attack as the sprightly Pikes front line began the match in confident fashion despite drawing a blank in the initial tie at the weekend after creating numerous second half opportunities.

The deadlock would be broken on the quarter hour mark in favour of Ramsbottom United when a surging run from Eddie Moran gave the midfielder a chance to perfectly play the ball into the path of Nic Evangelinos who strode purposefully into the penalty box before sending an accurate left footed shot across Andrew and inside the far post to register the attackers fifth goal in the last four FA Trophy ties and seventh strike overall for the Rams.

With the confidence that the opening goal brought, the hosts set about looking to improve on their lead with some devilish deliveries from the cultured left foot of Tom Kennedy again proving a valuable weapon for the Rams, one such free kick finding the head of Luke Thompson but the popular defenders effort was scrambled to safety before he could add to his recent goal tally of scoring in his last two appearances prior to his enforced absence on Saturday.

Ramsbottom United began to look the more likely team to add to the score line with Eddie Moran testing Andrew with a low drive from the edge of the box just prior to the half hour mark before minutes later a blistering effort from a similar area from Jamie Rother left the Pickering stopper helpless but the ball thumped into the woodwork as the pressure began to build towards the visitors goal.

The complexion of the contest continued in the hosts favour towards the half time break with the surging runs of Kyle Jacobs adding to the Rams attacking threat. With around ten minutes of the first period remaining lively attacker Nialle Rodney almost doubled the home sides advantage when his well struck effort hit the goal frame for a second time in a matter of minutes as the chances began to increase for the hosts.

The final action of note arrived just before the interval when an excellent through ball to Ruben Jerome found the striker surging towards the edge of the penalty area before a Pickering defender was adjudged to have brought down the burly forward and the referee deemed that the incident had occurred fractionally outside the box so a free kick rather than a penalty was awarded. The resulting set piece was curled accurately around the assembled wall by Nialle Rodney before Charlie Andrew flung himself to his left to tip the goal bound effort wide as the Rams finished the half strongly.

As the half time whistle blew Pickering would perhaps have felt fortunate to not be more than a single goal in arrears as an impressive first 45 minutes from the Rams could easily have generated a bigger lead to enjoy had it not been for some good goalkeeping from the Pickering custodian and also the woodwork denying the hosts on more than one occasion.

The visitors made their first change of the evening at the break when Dalton replaced Barkway and almost immediately made a contribution as the recently arrived substitute was adjudged to have been fouled in an almost identical position where the Rams where awarded a free kick before the interval but this time the referee decreed in was inside the box and Blott confidently equalised from twelve yards to restore parity.

With Pickering on a run that had seen them lose just one of the last nine outings the equaliser didn't noticeably alter the pattern of the encounter as a couple of set pieces caused panic in the visitors defence with the ball refusing to be forced over the line as both Ryan Ellison and centre back partner Thompson were foiled as the Pikes battled to keep the contest level.

As the match progressed to the three quarters point it was Ramsbottom that were having the majority of the possession with the midfield trio of Donaldson, Moran and Jamie Rother working tirelessly as the hosts were looking the more likely team to create the decisive moment to win the tie but Pickering sporting what could only be described as an "interesting" pink coloured kit were still possessing a threat on the break without calling Sam Ashton into any serious action.

Despite having the better of the second period the Ramsbottom perhaps weren't at their fluent best but were still creating some noteworthy efforts with Jacobs and Moran firing efforts from distance off target but the visitors hadn't managed a shot of note on target since the leveller but as the game entered the final ten minutes both teams were fully aware that one defensive slip or a moment of quality could curtail their involvement in the competition.

Then, as the watch was ticking towards the ninety minute mark and with extra time looking more a probability rather than a possibility the pivotal moment of the contest arrived when a patient attack lead to Ruben Jerome firing an effort goalwards which was blocked by Andrew before the ball fell to Eddie Moran in the penalty area before the all action midfielders astute pass to the edge of the box found the marauding full back Kyle Jacobs whose thunderous right footed effort from 20 yards flew past Andrew and exploded into the back of the net for the defenders first goal in Rams colours.

With the last gasp goal fitting to win any match, the Rams repelled some late Pickering pressure as the visitors threw men forward in the hope of taking the contest into an extra thirty minutes whilst a well worked counter attack almost brought a third goal for the hosts as Rodney and Evangelinos linked up before the latter had an attempt that flew wide of the target.

Nevertheless, as the final whistle sounded Ramsbottom United progressed to the First Round proper of the FA Trophy for the first time since 2014 and a trip to the west coast of Cumbria awaits on the 15th of December with a narrow, yet deserved victory against a tough and well organised Pickering Town outfit and the Rams unbeaten run under Chris Willcock ticks onto a hugely impressive twelve matches.

Credit should be given to both teams as each contributed to a couple of competitive old fashioned cup ties played within a few days of each other which were full of effort, determination and very watchable football as perhaps in the end the Rams just deservedly edged out their opponents from North Yorkshire as momentum and anticipation builds ahead of this weekend’s visit of second placed Runcorn Linnets to the HWRS.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Jacobs, Moran ,Thompson, Ellison, Rodney,Rother, Jerome, Donaldson, Evangelinos

Unused Subs- Lugsden, Osi-Efa, Parker, Hart, Jarrett