LOWER BRECK 5-2 RAMS
An afternoon that began so promisingly turned swiftly to controversy and disaster.
The Rams began brightly and after only three minutes, took the lead when Oscar Radcliffe found himself in the right place to turn home a right wing corner much to the delight of the healthy visiting supporters.
Moments later that lead appeared to have been doubled when the ball hit the back of the net following another corner.
However, as the players began to celebrate, they noticed the assistant’s flag raised leading to a conversation between him and the referee.
Amazingly the goal was chalked off for offside despite the ball being played back to the corner-taker by a home defender. After the game, the referee confirmed the error and stated that the goal should have stood, but at that stage it was merely academic.
Then came another controversial moment when Lower Breck’s Shay Stansfield and the Rams Martyn Jackson collided going for a high ball. Jackson came down with blood gushing from a cut that appeared to be the direct result of an elbow, but not only was no action taken against the home player, but no free-kick was awarded much to the dismay of the Ramsbottom contingent.
From there on the afternoon got progressively worse.
A misplaced back-header saw Rams keeper Ryan Hamer desperately attempting to gather the ball, but being outside the area, his efforts were rewarded with a red card.
So from a potential 2-0 lead, playing against ten men, the visitors found themselves clinging on to a slender one goal advantage but with a man less.
Managing to hold out until half-time, it looked an uphill struggle and so it proved. With Luke Roscoe doing his best as a stand-in keeper, the home side were always going to pressurise the away goal, and so it happened.
On 57 minutes Bobby Walsh took advantage of a failed attempt to clear a corner, to hammer home the equaliser, followed seven minutes later when former Ram Godwin Abadaki, despite being the smallest man on the pitch, managed to head home another corner.
More irony in the fact that another two former Ramsbottom players then added to the misery as James Murphy added a third on 68 minutes, and Jordan Shannon converted from the spot after 86 minutes. Between those two, Connor Rankin also managed to find the back of the net as the Rams capitulated during a frustrating last 45 minutes.
The visitors did have the consolation of the last goal of the game as some smart footwork played in Conal Gallagher who netted three minutes into extra time.
However, a game that started so optimistically, will be remembered for a number of controversial incidents, all of which appeared to go against the visitors.
Credit must be given though, to the Rams supporters who backed the team throughout in fine style.
Ramsbottom United: Hamer, Collinge, Walder, Walker(Whittingham 69mins), Radcliffe, Black, Ogunby(lockett 75mins), Jackson(Roscoe 25mins), Dudley, Whyte(Gallagher 75mins), Chingwaro(Jenkins 48mins)