Ramsbottom United 3 County 4
( pic by John Gaskin)
County`s` encounter with Ramsbottom United at the nicely appointed Harry Williams Riverside Stadium last night, turned out to be a bit of a cracker, with the blues on the back foot for long periods of the game ,but surviving in good enough nick to snatch the game with a late winner from Kristian Dennis.
For 60 odd minutes the game was a constant nightmare for County who looked in for a thrashing , with Tom Brooks and Ian Flannery making the usually excellent Kyle Jacobs wish he was elsewhere , and Dominic Smalley aided by Danny Warrender doing a similar job on Stephen O`Halloran on the other flank.
Well ...that`s the way it looked anyway with United`s neat play paying off with 2 goals in the first half and another just beyond the hour as they cruised into a seemingly unassailable 3 goal lead.
Ian Bogie must have been thoroughly perplexed, but his side responded to the impending humiliation with a show of grit that augurs well for the season ahead. Fired up by Rhys Turner`s speed and drive the blues turned the tables on their hosts as 2 goals from top shot Kristian Dennis, and one each from Turner and Jevons won the game for them 4-3.
Top men for me were Turner who had a quiet first half before tearing United to shreds after the break. Ormson ,who pulled off a string of stupendous saves to keep County in it, and Dennis who has now scored 5 in this pre season. Mentions too for Fagbola who did his best in the first hour to stop the rot, and Brandon Windsor who again looked excellent when switched to central defence 60 odd minutes in.
So.............a corner turned?......maybe.....but back to the start as what I viewed as a pretty strong County line up went about their business with Craney looking better than I remember him being in the opening moments.
Lee Gaskell did manage to get an early shot off for Ramsbottom, but this failed to trouble Ormson in the County goal.
Dominic Smalley was next up for the home side as he cut inside beyond O`Halloran, but he too was disappointed – his left foot shot flying a yard wide.
The alarm bells then started to ring for the blues as a series of corners came Ramsbottom`s way with another Smalley effort being deflected around the post by Jacobs. Ramsbottom piled into the box with a will as a result, and Charnock was only just able to keep Jordan Hulme from the ball at the back post. Another corner then, and mayhem threatened with O`Halloran on hand to kick Gaskell`s shot out off the line.
It continued with the hard pressed blue back line conceding a free kick , but Ormson kept Grant Spencer`s well struck effort out confidently.
This was not quite what we had come to see, and I was relieved to see the liners flag go up as Gaskell darted clear as the offside decision was marginal at best in my view.
Back came Ramsbottom through Danny Warrender and Mark Drew who combined neatly down the right. Drew did well to round the move off with a decent cross, but Ormson did really well in response, keeping the ball from Gaskell as he advanced on it through the middle.
It was one way traffic, and it continued as O`Halloran upended Smalley as he went past him at speed. Spencer took the free kick and it was a belter, but Ormson matched it with a terrific save that saw him dive to his left and push the ball onto the post! Great stuff!
We needed some of that from County`s outfield players, but a quick raid a minute later ended with Jordan Hulme diving to head Dennis`s cross clear, and not long after Jevons saw his free kick curl up and over the bar.
United meanwhile looked on song ...their work neat and snappy. County`s by comparison was laboured and plodding- a point emphasised by Robinson who snaffled the pill from Jacobs, 21 minutes in, before sending Brooks clear with a lovely slide rule pass. Brooks was away and clear, but County breathed easily again when his shot whistled across the face of goal before going out.
Still the cosh continued to descend on County as O`Halloran was by-passed by Smalley twice in rapid succession. Thankfully both times Fagbola was on hand to mop up but it was beginning to look anything but bright as far as County`s prospects were concerned, and Fagbola again came to County`s rescue on the half hour after Drew had beaten Charnock near the by-line- the cross was good, but so was Jordan and the danger passed.
Then something of a comedy goal threatened to change the game as, shadowed by Jacobs, Brooks just fell down. I didn`t note any contact, but the referee apparently had and it was a free kick, which Spencer despatched in brilliant style past Ormson`s despairing dive.
On the balance of play, that was not that great of a shock I must say, but another goal would be, and one looked distinctly likely just 2 minutes later as Flannery played Brooks in with a superlative through ball. He was clear and County were all over the place, but with Ormson exposed Brooks sent his shot wide of the target.
On and on it went with Brooks sending Jon Robinson clear- only Fagbola`s speed and determination stopped the rot and saw the danger averted!
At this point we needed County to knuckle down and concentrate on the basics ,but Charnock only just got away with an uncalled for bit of over elaboration, that he was to try to repeat a few times later before being substituted.
It was not as if we had not been adequately warned.....United wanted to win.......and it showed as Bernard Morley ran onto a pass from Phil Edghill and headed for goal. It looked all over 0-2 as Edghill let fly, but again Ormson was up to the task and he kept it out very confidently indeed.
Perhaps if County could hold out until half time then a word or two from Ian Bogie just might turn the tide, but with 4 minutes of the half remaining ,County`s task suddenly got harder, as Dean burst clear through the none existent cover down our right. Fagbola tried in vain to stop him but Dean was on fire and there was no stopping him as he sped on and on before slamming a beauty past Ormson to make it 0-2.
It was not the end of it in the first half. There was still time for Dean to terrorise us again ....for Ormson to pull off another decent save..... for Charnock to clear another shot off the line, and for Smalley to look on in anguish seeing his first time strike miss out by barely an inch!
Half time then and boy were we glad!
Jevons earned a quick corner on the re-start- he might have gone down in search of a penalty en-route, but he didn`t and perhaps that`s as well, but no-one could get to Dennis`s corner and the raid fizzled out.
There was no real sign of any change as far as County`s approach was concerned however and a free kick came and went, being rushed and thus wasted by the men in blue and white. By way of continuing contrast Ramsbottom still looked lively and up for it, with Ormson called on to make a save from Brooks who had darted clear into the wide open spaces down the left. He perhaps should have scored having drawn Ormson to the edge of his box, but he didn`t because the County keeper defied him splendidly beating the shot out. It went back to the United number fifteen, and again a goal looked on, but this time he beat Ormson, only to miss the goal by half a yard.
The traffic was still all heading Ormson`s way, and it was distinctly wince inducing to see Matt Russell send Flannery scooting clear through the middle. Again a goal looked certain but once more Ormson did the biz beating Flannery`s fierce shot out to Smalley who fired his follow up shot wide.
It was almost unbearably bad from a County view point and I just didn`t need to see Flannery set Brooks up in front of goal, but that was just what happened next- he side footed his shot wide, but the nerves were pretty much shot nevertheless.
Still there was no let up as Flannery fluffed a sitter.....Edghill grazed the bar with a speculative effort.
I say no let up, but Jevons did get a header in, on 59 minutes, just about the first blue effort of any note, but with Churchman on for Charnock, Ramsbottom took advantage of the situation, as County reorganised themselves with Windsor dropping back in central defence, to increase their lead when Brooks finished off good work by Flannery to make it 0-3.
Game over then.....or so it seemed , but within 2 minutes Turner snatched a goal back , forcing the ball home from close in after Fagbola`s shot had come out off a post.
That was better, and it was suddenly clear that if County could utilise Turner`s speed they just might be quids in!
Another 4 minutes .....and they were, as it took 2 men to contain Turner as he burst to the by-line.
The ball came back to Jevons, and his flick on teed Dennis up to slam the ball home from the edge of the box.
Unbelievably it was 2-3 and there was time enough to improve on that from a County view point.
There was also time for Ramsbottom to spoil any potential party and I winced as Robinson went down in the box over Windsor`s outstretched leg. Thankfully the referee waved play on and ...even better Turner had it on the break, and Warrender did well to keep him out at the last gasp.
The warnings were still there to be noted as I say and Ormson did well to keep another Spencer free kick out, and even better with a sensational stop to prevent Flannery from scoring after emerging in oodles of space behind the County back line.
Turner meanwhile kept at it all skill and speed, but Gaskell just did enough to stop him getting a shot off with Ramsbottom well stretched. Jacobs joined Turner next and Dennis`s shot on the end of the move only just missed out.
The next move did not, and again Turner`s speed was the key inducing Ramsbottom to foul him on the edge of the box. Free kick then, and Jevens stepped up to take it sending a sweet drive way past Grant Shenton`s dive into the net. We were level and boy was that good!
To their credit Ramsbottom kept trying and the neat work was still apparent if some of the early zip had gone from it. There was still room for Flannery to loop a shot from distance in that grazed the bar and for Ormson to pull off yet another tasty save from Edghill`s free kick, rather generously awarded by the referee.
Into the last 5 minutes we went with Turner sending Jevons clear...getting up in front for the cross that followed but lifting his shot over the bar, and then going one on one with the keeper who beat his shot out for a corner. This looked to have ended happily for the home side until the ball reached Dennis again and he promptly lifted a looper over the keepers head into the far corner.
Now it really was game over and ...amazingly perhaps...County had won!
County line up:
Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock ( Churchman 60), O`Halloran, Craney, Hand ( Lofthouse 78), Windsor ( Duxbury 78), Turner, Jevons, Dennis.
Sub not used: King.
Ramsbottom line up;
Shenton,Warrender,Pilkington, Drew,Flannery, Dawson, Smalley,Edghill, Gaskell,Robinson,Dean.