Leckenby's Tea Rooms

The Rams week went from bad to worse as they exited the FA Trophy at the hands of east Lancashire rivals Clitheroe.

Leckenby's Tea Rooms

Having lost 5-0 to title favourites Macclesfield in the week, hopes were high of a turnaround in fortunes as Clitheroe came to town, and those hopes were raised in the 22nd minute when Tony Donaldson seized on a poor back pass to round the keeper and slot home from a tight angle.

But defensive frailties allowed the visitors to ultimately take charge of the game and progress to the next round.

Yet as early as the third minute, the home side could have taken the lead as the ball fell for James Murphy, but his effort from 15 yards sailed past the wrong side of the post.

Minutes later, however, a sign of what was to come almost gave the visitors the lead.

Harry Turner, returning in goal after injury, made two excellent saves in quick succession to deny former Ram, Sefton Gonzales and Reece Webb-Foster.

Max Cane then almost opened the scoring but again Turner was able to repel a close range effort.

As the game swung from end to end, it was the Rams who opened the scoring but the lead lasted a mere five minutes.

Left wing crosses were to be the undoing of the home side. From a corner another former Ram, Billy Priestly rose highest to nod home the equaliser.

And as with the Macclesfield game, a likely half-time break with both teams going in on level terms, was shattered when another corner from the left found Gonzales, who with the help of a deflection made sure that manager Lee Donafee’s half-time script would have been torn up.

Woeful defending eight minutes into the second half handed the visitors a comfortable two goal cushion. Yet another left wing cross sailed over the head of Turner, and Gonzales in acres of space and with the Rams defence nowhere to be seen, had the simple task of nodding the ball home from close range.

Two minutes later it should have been four as the home defence was again split in two, and the onrushing Cane looked certain to finish the game off, but Turner managed to magnificently thwart him.

Substitutes Billy Hasler-Cregg and Temi Ajibola both came close to reducing the arrears, firstly shooting wide of the target before the latter did all the hard work in the box but his final effort sailed well over the bar.

At that point it looked as though the inevitable defeat was to follow, and Gonzales almost kneed in a fourth before Webb-Foster did manage to extend the score-line with two minutes to go when, yet again completely unmarked, he poked home the final nail in the coffin to give Clitheroe a thoroughly deserved win, although had the Rams managed to avoid that late first half goal, who knows how the second half would have turned out.

The worrying thing is that in the last two games, the first 45 minutes were fairly even, but conceding so late on both occasions appears to have had an impact and in both games, the visitors took control of the second 45, and as a result two heavy defeats and nine goals conceded.

Manager Donafee will need to work his miracles to restore confidence and a tighter defence as, with knock-out competitions out of the way, the team can now concentrate on picking up much needed league points.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Turner, Radcliffe, Murphy, Coppack, Hall, Holt, Grimshaw Hasler-Cregg 60mins), Rother, Creech(Ajibola 45mins), Donaldson, Jennings(Johnson 71mins) Subs not used: Dean, Fitzgerald, Shannon

Photo: Jake Horrocks