REPORT: Rams 0 Atherton Colls 3

Ramsbottom suffered a disappointing start to 2019 as they were beaten 3-0 by Atherton Colls in an afternoon to forget for Chris Willcock’s men.

Goalless at halftime, the visitors ran out convincing winners in the second 45 with Conor Gaul, Tom Bentham and Ben Conway all scoring for Colls meaning The Rams ended the day outside the play off places in The Evo Stik West division.

The home side made three changes to the side that beat Radcliffe on boxing day. Ryan Ellison missed the game through suspension whilst Tom Kennedy and Ruben Jerome also started the game on the bench. Joel Bembo-Leta, Kyle Jacobs and Richard Brodie all came into the side in Ramsbottom’s first game of The New Year.

Rammy were the dominant side of the first half, yet struggled to create many clear cut chances that threatened Colls keeper Ollie Martin. After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Ramsbottom’s number seven Jamie Rainford hit the bar with a wild shot from outside the box, before striker Brodie saw his effort blocked by Martin to keep the match all square.

As the half wore on, the men in blue continued to find openings at goal, with Nic Evangelinos the driving force from the left. The Rams number 11 went on several weaving runs at goal, yet his efforts on goal failed to match his hopeful runs as he skewed his efforts wide. Brodie again failed to hit the target when in behind the Atherton back line, deciding to pull the trigger when Jamie Rother was in a much favourable position alongside the number nine. At the other end, Atherton also struggled to create any real chances of their own as the sides went back to the dressing room with the game at nil apiece.

The visiting side came out of the blocks the quickest in the second half with Colls number seven Ben Hardcastle immediately causing problems for the Rammy back line, drawing a decent stop from Sam Ashton.

Shortly after Atherton took the lead. A cross field ball from out wide was briefly cut out by centre back Bembo-Leta, yet fell straight to Conor Gaul who sent the away fans into loud cheers with an effort that flew past Ashton in the home goal.

Rammy hit back and gave a good response to Gaul’s goal moving the ball nicely in and around the box, however couldn’t find a leveller. Instead Atherton doubled their advantage on the sixty fifth minute mark, their second goal coming largely against the run of play.

Sub Kennedy took a throw in on the left hand side of the pitch, yet his throw was mis-controlled at the back leaving Bentham to take full advantage, seeing off Ashton and leaving the home side with a real mountain to climb heading into the final stages of the game.

Atherton could have made it three shortly after, Hardcastle’s shot was blocked and cleared off the line denying the striker Atherton’s third goal. But Rammy were less fortunate in the 78th minute as sub Conway made sure Colls would be leaving The Riverside with all three points, firing a shot from outside the area which secured the victory and consequently, subjected Willcock to his second defeat as manager.

The Rams could have bagged a consolation goal in the final few minutes. Brodie managed to wriggle his way around The Colls backline, yet as with Colls effort at the other end, his shot was cleared off the line, this time by Atherton full back Connor Smith. The chance summed up Ramsbottom’s frustrating day.

The events of the second half clearly disappointed Willcock, however stayed positive when discussing the long term hopes for the team. “First half I thought we edged it, we had the shot which hit the cross bar (Rainford’s shot). They didn’t really trouble us, Sam’s had nothing to do. “But I thought we defended poorly for the first goal but the second can happen at any time. We had time to get something out of the game at two down, but Atherton saw the game out well”.

On making three changes before the game. “The changes were forced on us. Jerome has had a hamstring problem and also Kennedy with facial trouble that we can’t do anything about, but they’ve been very good for us so far this season.

“We’ve had a couple of bad days in 18 games but recently we’ve been very good. We’re in a good position and there’s still plenty of points to play for. “The last time we conceded three goals, we went three games without conceding. Let’s look for the same response again”.

Ramsbottom United: Ashton,Kelvin Lugsden, Jacobs, Moran, Thompson, Bemba-Leta (Kennedy 65’), Rainford, Rother, Brodie, Donaldson (Kieran Lugsden 60’), Evangelinos

Subs not used: Osi-Efa,Jerome, Foulds