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Watch Out Quarter Finals - Here Comes Ramsbottom United!

Author: Tony Cunningham Published: 13th March 2012 16:06

Ramsbottom United booked their place in the quarter-finals of the North West Counties League Challenge Cup for the first time since 2006 with a routine 2-0 success over Winsford United at their ground.

Ramsbottom United midfielder Robert GrimesRamsbottom United midfielder Robert Grimes

With a team showing a number of changes, including a return to the blue shirt for right-back Danny Warrender, who is back with Rammy following a short spell with FC United of Manchester, the Rams dealt with the Cheshire outfit with some comfort.

The first quarter of an hour was quiet with very little in the way of advantage for either side.

That all changed on 16 minutes. Following a succession of corners forced by the Rams, Grant Spencer's pinpoint accuracy found the leaping Mark Ayres who powerfully headed home to put the visitors one up.

From this moment on, there was realistically only one side in the game although Winsford did have a couple of opportunities which they spurned.

Warrender marked his return with a shot on 24 minutes after a good through ball from Lee Gaskell but the effort was cannoned away for a corner. And it was from this that the home side had their first opportunity but Andrew Hurst fired wide to the left of Grant Shenton.

And when Warrender was dispossessed by Daley Woods, it looked for all money that he would level the scores by Shenton pulled off a superb save to keep his side ahead.

Lee Gaskell was again proving a thorn in the side of the opposition and came close on two occasions when he put pressure on Andrew Jones and charged down a couple of attempted clearances - but couldn't quite get enough on the ball to score.

After a loud penalty appeal for handball on 36 minutes, the Rams did get awarded a spot kick when Spencer was needlessly tripped in the area when going nowhere after some fine interpassing between he and Gaskell.

Gaskell stepped up and fired the ball home to give the visitors an impressive 2-0 advantage.

The second half, in contrast, was instantly forgettable with the Rams happy to sit back on their lead with only a handful of attempts keeping the crowd of just 80 alert to the action.

Kieron Pickup almost scored within 30 seconds of coming onto the field as a substitute as he was on the end of a good ball from Ryan Moore and Gaskell could have done better with his shot but he fired it high and wide.

And the potent striker almost added a third in injury time but he was deemed offside after chasing up another parried shot, this time from Pickup.

Winsford did hit the bar with about ten minutes remaining in their only effort in the second half but the Rams ensured they moved through into the last eight.

They will be facing the lowest ranked team remaining in the tournament when they play First Division side Norton United on Saturday 24 March at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

However, it will be far from easy with Norton the odds-on favourites for promotion having gone through the season unbeaten thus far in the league and reached the fifth round of the FA Vase this year.

Meanwhile, the Rams lost top spot in the North West Counties League Premier Division when Runcorn Town defeated Colne 4-3 in an extraordinary match that saw five goals scored in the last eight minutes of the contest.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Moore (Stopforth 78), Smalley, Pilkington, Ayres, Flannery, Warrender, Grimes, Gaskell, Morley (Sharples 70), Spencer (Pickup 57). Subs not used: Hulme, Robinson

Tuesday 13 March - AWAY to Alsager Town (North West Counties League) 7.45pm
Saturday 17 March - AWAY to Flixton (North West Counties League) 3pm
Tuesday 20 March - HOME v Silsden (North West Counties League) 7.45pm
Saturday 24 March - HOME v Norton United (North West Counties Challenge Cup) 3pm

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