THE RAMS ALMOST PAY THE PENALTY
The Ramsbottom players celebrate following their 4-3 shootout win over Pilkington in the Isuzu FA Vase.
Although at half-time, the conversation was all about the fact that the Rams had gone in only one goal to the good, after dominating the opening 45 minutes. That failure to add to a first half penalty almost came back to haunt them as the second half produced a totally different outcome.
Back at the start however, the visitors slowly took control of the match yet somehow failed to find the net having created a number of chances. It took a foul on Matt Dudley after 33 minutes to finally open what looked like the floodgates, as Harvey Whyte confidently slotted home the resultant spot-kick.
The second half saw a dramatic change of fortunes, as the home side had obviously been on the receiving end of quite a half-time rant, and they came out with a much more determined attitude.
This seemed to throw the away side, and a crisp passing style of play that was so evident in the opening half, disintegrated as Pilkington took the game to the visitors.
The home side created a number of chances and it was no surprise when the equaliser came on 59 minutes, as Callum Laird found himself with plenty of space in the box, and he gleefully side-footed the ball home.
Try as they may, the Rams struggled to regain a foothold, and when substitute Conal Gallagher was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on 88 minutes, the home side sensed blood against the ten men.
Sure enough, two minutes later up popped Callum Lees to head home a left-wing corner, and that seemed to be that.
However, not for the first time this season, this Rams team never knows when to give in, and four minutes into stoppage time, a left-wing interchange of passes saw the ball played across the six-yard box by Henri Ogunby and there, of all people, was centre-half Oliver Radcliffe, who calmed side-footed into the back of the net, much to the relief of all concerned with the side from east Lancashire.
And so to penalties, a situation that would have been out of the thoughts of the Ramsbottom contingent at half-time, but came as a relief when the final whistle was blown.
Pilkington missed their third kick, swiftly followed by the Rams, but young keeper Aidan McKerney made his second superb save to deny the home side’s fifth attempt, leaving Matt Dudley with the task of burying the final shot and leading to wild celebrations amongst the Rams players and supporters.
Manager Steve Wilkes commented after the match, “Wow, where to start! Talk about the good, bad and the ugly”.
“I thought after the first ten minutes we controlled the first half comfortably and could have been more than 1-0 up at half-time. We said to the players the first 10 minutes of the second half are going to be important but we just never started.
“Fair play to Pilkington who put us under a lot of pressure and deservedly scored the equaliser. Then when you get a man sent off in the 88th minute then conceded in the 89th, you think that’s it, you are out of the cup.
“But I have to give the lads enormous credit for believing we could equalise and we did through skipper Oscar Radcliffe.
“Penalties are a lottery but thankfully young Aidan (McKerney) made two great saves that saw us through to the next round”
Ramsbottom United: McKerney, Hayhurst, Walder, Walker (Rigby 90mins), Radcliffe, Johnson, Ogunby, Sephton, Dudley, Whyte, Redmayne (Gallagher 56mins). Subs not used: Lockett, Lewis, Roscoe, Jackson, Wood