OTS – 16th MARCH

by | Mar 15, 2024

I have made an error … with the leap year coming around, the years have changed in our weekly reports “On This Saturday”.  So we have moved to 2019, 2013 and 2002, but 1996 has stayed the same.  Two draws and a battling 4-3 win is the look at this week!

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League West Division
(Jon Haslam’s match report)

Ramsbottom United headed for Staffordshire on Saturday afternoon with three important play off points on offer as a number of their promotion rivals were not in action due to the inclement weather.

Hosts Chasetown were the opponents in Chris Willcocks first match in charge for the Rams back in early October at The Riverside which ended with the honours even as the teams shared four goals.

As the match kicked in blustery conditions the visitors showed two changes from the victory seven days ago with Iyrwah Gooden and Jamie Rother replacing Jason Carey and Kyle Jacobs respectively on their first ever visit to Chasetown..

The first ten minutes were fairly even with both sides looking threatening down the flanks but neither goalkeeper had cause for concern in the opening exchanges.

Then,with a dozen minutes played a potentially match changing incident occurred when an aerial challenge on the half way line involving right full back Ryan Ellison ended with left back Callum Cockerill-Mollet writhing in agony and referee Brown decreed that that the incident deserved a red card and the Rams were down to ten men for the remainder of the contest.

Despite being a man light the visitors reorganised with Kieran Lugsden filling in at right back and it was the day trippers who almost broke the deadlock when Nic Evangelinos sent in a cross from the left flank which married up perfectly with the run of Tom Schofield and a well directed header from 8 yards out brought a fine finger tipped save from Pond in the home goal.

Minutes later the Rams created another opportunity when a raid down the right hand gave Jamie Rainford the chance to find the head of the marauding Jamie Rother but again Pond plunged down low to deny the visitors the opener.

With twenty goalless minutes played Chasetown threatened to open the scoring but a wayward attempt sailed wide of the target after good work down the left flank from the home side caused the first real moment of concern for the visitors.

Then midway through the half disaster struck for Ramsbottom United when a long ball forward was dealt with by Joel Bembo-Leto who played the ball backwards towards keeper Sam Ashton but as home forward Tom Hill chased down the back pass and as the Rams stopper stumbled on the edge of his own penalty area this left the Chasetown front man with a clear run on goal and with great delight rolled the ball into a gaping net to put the hosts a goal to the good.

A point worthy of mention is that the strike from Chasetown was the first time Chris Willcocks outfit had been behind in an away league game since the Widnes fixture back on the 9th October.

The Rams quickly made an adjustment with recognised full back Kyle Jacobs entering the fray at the expense of the unfortunate Tom Schofield with Kieran Lugsden returning to his more familiar midfield role.

Despite trailing and being down to ten men the visitors continued to create some goal scoring chances with Jamie Rother sending a well placed cross onto the head of Iyrwah Gooden but The Scholars shot stopper Pond was again called into action to preserve the hosts advantage.

Chasetown almost doubled their goal tally around the half hour point when a squall of pressure resulted in Tom Kennedy clearing a goal bound shot off the line and when the ball was cleared to the edge of the penalty area a well struck shot flew wide of the target as the home side looked to continue their recent good run of three consecutive victories.

Parity was almost restored ten minutes before the interval when a Tom Kennedy free kick was headed down to an unmarked Jamie Rainford whose well executed finish appeared to have put the away side on level terms but the sight of the linesman’s flag being held aloft brought the celebrations to an abrupt end which had the travelling Rams supporters wondering if this was beginning to look like “one of those days”. Even the elements appeared to take a turn for the worst when the windy conditions gave way to driving rain which did little to improve the mood of the loyal band of supporters from Lancashire.

As regular viewers of Ramsbottom United games will testify to this squad is made of stern stuff and despite events appearing to conspire against them the equaliser deservedly arrived with just four minutes of the half remaining when Iyrwah Gooden found himself behind his opposing full back before sending in a pinpoint cross from the right hand side along the six yard box to the unmarked goal poacher Jamie Rainford who gleefully tapped into an unguarded net to register his 13th goal in thirteen starts and again prove what an excellent acquisition the forward has been for the Rams.

As the half time whistle sounded an incident packed first half concluded with honours even and hopes were high that the second period would provide the same level of entertainment for the hardy souls braving the miserable weather at the picturesque Scholars Ground Stadium.

With both teams unchanged the second half began at a frantic pace with the hosts looking to take advantage of the extra player by utilising the wings and attempting to stretch the play at every opportunity whilst the day trippers looked to play positively when any attacking opportunities presented themselves.

As the rain continued to fall at an ever increasing rate neither side seriously tested the opposing keeper until around the hour mark when a break by the Rams found Nic Evangelinos tight to the goal line and as the ball was smuggled to Iyrwah Gooden the wide man was unceremoniously scythed down from behind by home skipper Wynter and referee Brown had no choice but to point to the penalty spot.

After a pause in proceedings as the bruised Gooden received some treatment up stepped leading scorer Nic Evangelinos to send the home keeper Pond the wrong way with a well struck effort from twelve yards that signalled the 50th league goal scored under the stewardship of manager Chris Willcock and the ten men had shown unbelievable tenacity to come from a goal down with one player less to take the lead as the Rams sought their tenth consecutive away league win.

Sadly Gooden could not shake off the injury and had to be replaced by Ruben Jerome as Chris Willcock continued with the now familiar positive approach which has seen the away day specialists unbeaten away from the Riverside in league fixtures since mid September.

Chasetown responded with a double substitution of their own as they looked for a way back into the contest although excellent work down the left flank gave Tom Kennedy the chance to find the head of the recently arrived substitute Ruben Jerome but the strikers header was comfortably gathered by the hosts stopper Pond.

With time ebbing away the remaining quarter of an hour consisted of the home side pushing forward with ever increasing desperation which gave the Rams the chance to counter attack as Chasetown committed more and more players forward in search of an equalising goal.

As the conditions worsened and the pitch became heavier by the minute the hosts continued to attack the Rams goal but some resolute defending and wayward finishing kept the away side in front and most neutral observers may have found it difficult to believe that the visitors had been playing for more than 75 minutes with ten men.

The hosts created and missed a series of chances with the ever present Sam Ashton forced to pull off a number of fine saves, one in particular stands out with ten minutes remaining when a 20 yard effort from Langston brought a flying save from the Rams keeper.

The hosts attacking momentum lead to a flurry of corners which kept the visiting defence under duress whilst only desperate defending at tge other end of the field prevented the Rams from adding to their tally when both Jerome and Rainford almost fashioned a match clinching third goal for the away team on a breakaway.

Unfortunately and with only a minute of the ninety remaining Chasetowns pressure finally found a way through the visitors rearguard and broke Ramsbottom United hearts when despite their a number of attempts the Rams couldn’t clear the danger and the hosts took advantage by keeping the ball alive in and around the penalty area before the ball fell kindly to the home sides central defender Askey and his low drive flew past Ashton and into the corner of the goal to equalise late in the game.

Both sides pushed forward looking for the decisive fifth goal but without success and as an entertaining encounter came to an end the scoreline from the meeting earlier in the season had been repeated.

The Rams took their unbeaten away league matches to an impressive twelve and again showed their team spirit and fortitude to come away with a well earned point in testing circumstances whilst perhaps feeling slightly frustrated that their trip back up the M6 could easily have garnered a further two points in the search for one of the promotion berths come the end of the season.

Ramsbottom United:- Ashton, Kennedy, Ellison (Sent off 12 minutes), Rother, Bembo-Leto, Kelvin Lugsden,, Gooden (Jerome 64 mins), Schofield (Jacobs 27 mins), Rainford, Kieran Lugsden, Evangelinos


Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
(Tony Cunningham’s match report)

What had begun as a routine and easy victory turned into a game that had the home side clinging on to ensure they collected the three points that had looked academic after just 15 minutes.

Within the opening quarter of an hour, the Rams had notched three goals against a side struggling against relegation, and the general feeling at that point was how many they could notch in the remaining 75 minutes.

However, with their foot off the gas, the visitors made some crucial substitutions that turned the game on it’s head.

It took just five minutes for the hosts to nose ahead.  A Gary Stopforth ball into the area found Lee Gaskell, who slipped it on for Jon Robinson to slot home from 15 yards.

A minute later and Robinson nearly notched a second. His header from a Phil Dean cross was spectacularly held by Jody Barford in the Albion goal.

Barford was then penalised for handling outside the area, and Gaskell saw his free-kick sail inches wide.

At the other end, Peter Collinge had to be alert in the home goal as, following a half-clearance, a snapshot from Adam Hayton tested the custodian.

After 13 minutes the Rams went two up, as Gaskell ended his six match goalless drought. Stopforth fed Dominic Smalley on the right, and his perfect cross found Gaskell who powered home a header.

Two minutes later, Gaskell scored his second and the Rams third to put them in total control.

A quick free kick fed Robinson who raced to the by-line before pushing the ball back for Gaskell to lash it home from ten yards.

A weak effort from Josh Garbutt was the only response from a dispirited opposition as the home side looked in complete control.

Mark Ayres was denied when the ball was snatched off his toes, whilst Robinson’s flying header from another Dean cross beat the far post.

Phil Edghill put an effort over the bar before Dean again looped the ball in for Robinson, but he was inches away from making contact.

Smalley drifted in from the left to place a curling effort that just sailed wide of the far post, before Ayres fed Andy Dawson, but his shot was well wide of the target.

A great run by Jordan Hulme saw him race past a couple of defenders before sending in a low cross which Robinson controlled. He turned and fired goalwards only to see Barford come to the rescue and keep the score down to three as the half-time whistle approached.

The second half looked like going the same way as the first, with Gaskell sending a header inches over the bar.

However, a couple of inspired substitutions seemed to perk up the deflated visitors.

On 67 minutes the ball broke in the box to one of the newcomers, Joe Fox, who calmly placed the ball into the corner of Collinge’s net for what appeared to be a consolation.

Five minutes later, the complacency that the Rams had enjoyed suddenly turned to doubt, as the other substitute Alex Booker reduced the arrears to a single goal. A corner from the left from third substitute Alex Metcalfe, bounced back into play off the far post. As the Rams were breathing a sigh of relief, the ball was played back into the six yard area, and Booker was on hand to nod home from close range.

Suddenly it was the home side that began to look dispirited, as the Albion players sensed an unexpected comeback.

However, on 75 minutes, the Rams seemed to have repelled the danger, as Grant Spencer’s long range shot seemed to confuse Barford, and his juggling only succeeded in turning what should have been a comfortable save into a fourth goal for the hosts.

The visitors had other ideas.

Just two minutes later, Dawson tripped Booker in the box, and Fox confidently slotted home the resultant penalty to bring the score to 4-3.

The Rams looked for another goal that would have reduced the feeling of panic on the terraces, whilst Ossett continued to sense an upset.

No more goals ensued, as the home side took all three points in a highly entertaining game that had looked like being a stroll after those first 15 minutes.

Credit to the Albion for their brave effort, but in reality, had they stolen a point it would have been unjust. It would, however, have served as a lesson in killing games off for a Ramsbottom side that appeared to feel the job had been done in those early minutes. Such complacency almost came back to haunt them.

Collinge, Hulme, Ayres, Stopforth(Spencer 63mins), Dawson, Warrender, Smalley, Edghill, Gaskell, Robinson(Kuba-Kuba 83mins), Dean. Subs not used: Purcell, Proudfoot, Osemwegie


North West Counties League Division 1
(report from Lancashire Telegraph archive)

Ramsbottom United went into this game against one of the form sides in the division who before this game had lost one in their last 13 games.

Mike Kelly had selection problems due to the fact that both Mike Smith and Steve Sheilds were unavailable and matters were made worse when Mike Langhorn got stuck in traffic on his way to the game. So Kelly decided to give a debut to Darren Blore at the back, a recent signing from Trafford, and put both Simon Woodford and Phil Porter in a back three formation. Gary Lewis was also given a start on the left side due to the late arrival of Langhorn, John Phillips was also given his first start in the centre of midfield.

Nantwich started the game brightly and put the Rams new defence under pressure from the word go, with Gleghorn at the centre of every Nantwich move as they forced two corner in the opening minutes, but Horridge and his defenders coped with the early pressure admirably. The Rams then started to get the ball down and played some neat football, on a tricky bobbly surface, one such move culminating in a Brad Franks volley which just flashed wide of the target. Paul Horridge had to be on his toes as Eddie Bishop broke clear of the defence and found himself one on one with Horridge, but Horridge reacted well to smother the ball at the ex-Tranmere Rovers striker’s feet. Half time approached with the deadlock still not broken.

The second half kicked off in bright sunshine with Ramsbottom forcing the play right from the start as they knocked the ball about with Karl Brown at the centre of most moves.

Brad Franks and John Phillips linking up well int he centre of midfield. Yorke-Robinson threatening down the right and Lewis down the left. Surely it was just a matter of time before Ramsbottom turned their territorial advantage into a goal.

Brierley and Lomax linked up well together and on one occasion playing a neat one two but Lomax’s final shot was just off target as he spun on the edge of the box.

The Rams had Nantwich on the backfoot but didn’t have anything to show for all their possession. On 75 minutes a tiring Gary Lewis was replaced by Steven Brennan with Yorke-Robinson moving onto the left side of midfield and Brennan the right. This nearly paid immediate dividends as Yorke-Robinson put in a cross that found the Rams leading marksman Brierley totally unmarked in the area, but with a free header he decided to pick out Stuart Heeps in the Nantwich goal rather than the back of the net.

Mike Langhorn replaced Yorke Robinson after he picked up a slight knock on 80 mins. Nantwich then came into the game a little more but the back three of Blore, Woodford and Porter, marshalled by Horridge, dealt with the situation as they had done all day and considering the fact t he defenders were thrown in at the dep end by the manager, their performance individually and collectively deserves a special mention. So for the second time in the last three games, the Rams failed to socre and must learn that chances that do come along have to be taken at this level on the plus side it was the Rams second clean sheet in the last three games, a marked improvement on earlier performances.

1996 –
North West Counties League Division 2

Our scheduled match away at Bacup Borough was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.