ROLLERCOASTER RAMS THROUGH ON PENS
Kai Calderbank-Park saved the last two Bottesford penalty kicks to send his side into the Third Round.
Watching Ramsbottom United this season creates a roller-coaster of emotions, with unpredictable performances, inconsistent results, and mouth-stopping moments galore.
This FA Vase game was just the latest that had the supporters at the edge of their seats til the very end.
Throw in the late kick-off due to Bottesford Town’s coach being caught up in heavy motorway traffic, it was 5.45 before the referee called time on a pulsating match.
The first half was fairly evenly contested and did not reflect the fortunes of the remainder of the contest.
The visitors took the lead on 17 minutes when a cross-shot rebounded off the frame of the goal and Josh Fraiwald scrambled the rebound over the line. With chances at either end, both goals remained intact until the half-time break.
Whatever was said in the dressing room by manager Steve Wilkes certainly had the desired effect, for within 20 seconds of the restart, the referee was pointing at the penalty spot as the visiting keeper upended Luke Sephton.
Matt Dudley confidently converted to level the scores, and the Rams continued to pile on the pressure.
This was rewarded ten minutes later, when a right wing corner was met by an unmarked Kuda Chingwaro and his firm header rocketed into the back of the net.
Bottesford continued to press in an attempt to get back into the game, but, as the match swung from end to end, the Rams managed to contain them until five minutes from the end of normal time.
A chase down the left-hand side saw the visitor’s winger outpace his marker and as he raced to the by-line, his low drive was gleefully sidefooted home from a couple of yards out by the unmarked Dan Walker.
Once again, the defensive frailties had come back to deny the Rams what had looked like a safe passage into the next round.
With the ninety minute mark passed, six minutes of added on time were shown, and in the sixth, visiting keeper Graeme Anderson raced out of his area and brought down the on-rushing Dudley. After consulting with his assistant, the referee produced a red card, with outfield captain Jack Griffin taking over the goalkeeping duties.
Another five minutes were played, yet despite some hefty strikes on goal, the Rams attack could not find a way past a stubborn Town defence, resulting in the dreaded penalty-kick lottery.
Both sides scored their kicks until Bottesford’s stand-in keeper saved the Rams third attempt.
All remaining penalties were converted, leaving Bottesford with the simple task of converting their fifth to go through.
Rams keeper Kai Calderbank-Park, though, guessed correctly and dived to his left to prevent the winner.
Tension all around the ground, as Ryan Lockett, so unlucky this season to see multiple goalbound efforts deflected, took spot-kick number six and finally opened his account.
All eyes back on Calderbank-Park, and once again, to scenes of sheer delight, he guessed correctly to save the next kick, and the Rams were through.
For the supporters, it was another afternoon of high tension and wonderful entertainment, as dreams of a trip to Wembley become more focussed.
Manager Steve Wilkes confirmed, “We certainly don’t do things easy. I thought we were the better team for most of the game, my keeper Kai hasn’t had a save to make during the 90 minutes and we know we should have scored more. But I think we are going to get the lable of ‘The Entertainers’ with the amount of goals our games have.
“When it comes to penalties, it’s a lottery but special mention to Kai Calderbank-Park for two massive saves in the shoot-out, and also young Ryan Lockett for asking to take a penalty whilst he was sitting in the dug-out.
“Fantastic character from a lad who loves pulling on the Rammy shirt and so pleased that he technically scored the winning penalty”.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Calderbank-Park, Collinge, Hayhurst (Walder 39mins), Walker (Lockett 96mins), Radcliffe, Lent, Sephton, Jackson (Rigby 90mins), Dudley, Whyte, Chingwaro Subs not used: Johnson, Ogunby, Roscoe, Lewis