Thursday 01st September 2005

Rams take a Southwood bashing

Saturday 1st
October 2005
Ryman League
Division One
Mike Green reports from Southwood Stadium
Ramsgate 2 Ball 76
Welford 77
Bashley 4 Wakefield 27
Morrant 30
Riley 33
Gillespie 65

So the unbeaten home record has gone, but what can the Rams take from its ruins?  Well how about not giving the opposition a four goal head start - that would be a good start wouldn't it?

Well its a shame that the first day of October saw the Rams back line perform as if it were the first time they'd been introduced to each playing almost as total strangers.  

Jimmy Ward was far from "pleased" afterwards with some of the defending he'd witnessed under the grey skies of Southwood - somehow I think that the overhead conditions were bright compared to the managers half time mood as he and his back room staff held a pitch side conference before they entered the dressing room.

The reason?  Well to be fair the visitors had been gifted three goals in a ten minute spell around the half hour which were all preventable, whilst going forward too often Shaun Welford was left too isolated with little support or service.  

But it was at the back where the problems really were and boy did Bashley (backed with a blustery wind) take advantage in the first half, mainly down to a front two comprising of the lively Richard Gillespie and the player manager Dave Wakefield.

And it was the player boss who put the visitors into a lead on 26 minutes that they just about deserved, after creating the better early chances - the best of which came on only 6 minutes when Gillespie escaped down the left and so very nearly caught out Danny Twyman at his near post - the keeper plunging to his left to pull off a smart save at the base of his left post!  

But by then you must ask if the visitors should have been down to ten men following Steve Saunders opening minute clash with Michael Yianni, which left Yianni in a heap - the victim of what apparently the referee later told the Rams boss was a "hand off".  

From where I stood it looked, shall we say, slightly more than that - but the referee's decision is like it or not final!

The Rams huffed and puffed early on, but only had Warren Schulz's 25 yard curler to show for their efforts and that safely dealt with by keeper David Elm, who is probably one of the tallest keepers I've seen for some time.  

And it was Elm who was the provider for the opening goal.  He launched a huge kick down field and as Ed Vahid and Ollie Schulz left the ball to each other, Wakefield was away and as he entered the area he drove the ball joyously into the bottom corner of the net.  

If that was a disaster for the defence, then what happened on the half hour was of horrific proportions.  

Wakefield got clear down the left and was forced almost to the corner flag.   His cross totally deceived Twyman who allowed the ball to bounce off the top of the bar and as it dropped (with the keeper in the back of the net) wing back Neil Morant made sure the ball followed him there - gleefully blasting the ball into the roof of the net.  

Ward's face in the technical area painted a picture - a picture that got very much blacker and angrier on 36 minutes.  Michael Casser had been penalised for a "miss timed" challenge on Anderson - by miss timed the tackle was ever so slightly late -but boy did
Bashley make the Rams pay for that.  

The free kick was allowed to travel all the way across the box to the far post where two Bashley players converged to bundle the ball home with the balding Steve Riley (who was outstanding in central defence throughout) bundling the ball home from all of a yard.

I commented to Mark Harrop at this point that even he would have scored from that range - the rueful grin said it all from my "guest summariser" for the afternoon...  As did the managers face at half time...

An interesting half time team talk me thinks went on in the home team dressing room...

Yet after the break it was still Bashley who posed the threats and despite a triple half time substitution the home side were still second best all over the pitch.  

That said though there were signs that the visitors were beginning to tire as the Rams begin getting in behind the two Bashley wing backs.  But (and why is there always a but?) on 65 minutes, Bashley should have sowed the game up with a goal that would "grace" any blooper tape but be the first on the Twyman Trash pile!  

A free kick wasn't cleared properly and as Ashley Williams curled the ball back into the box, the Rams keeper challenged for the ball with Gillespie and promptly spilled the ball
allowing the striker to walk the ball into the empty net, despite a desperate lunge from the keeper...  Shaking his head Harrop turned to me and muttered "Game set and match".

But if something reporting on football has taught yours truly, its never say never, and inexplicably going four down seemed to be just the boost the Rams needed and at long last Welford was being supported in the box and there were some decent deliveries being to rain in on the Bashley defence.

The game turned, for that is the only way I can term it, when Stefan Ball clattered into keeper Elm on the edge of the box leaving the keeper reeling in agony on the ground. The  referee deemed the challenge fair but it seemed to have an adverse reaction on his team mates as for five minutes they stopped and in that time boy did the home side take advantage...

On 76 minutes, Stuart Vahid's corner caused mayhem in the box, and as the Bashley defence only half cleared the ball, Ball, lurking on the edge of the 18 yard box launched an exocet of a volley into the top corner of the net.  

If Elm hadn't of still been trying to shake off the effects of the earlier challenge, he still wouldn't half stood an earthly as the ball hurtled passed him.  So instead the keeper, like the rest of the crowd, stood in absolute awe as Ball executed THE perfect half volley!

Suddenly there was belief where before there was none and to illustrate the point the deficit was halved and this time Ball was the provider.  A tremendous right wing
cross found the flying Welford at the back post who powered a header passed Elm.

Incredibly a minute later it could have been three in four minutes.   If only Mark Munday's header from 8 yards had gone in rather than clearing the bar - what a last ten minutes there would have been!  If only Welford header hadn't have been clawed out from under the bar by Elm five minutes from time what a finale it would have been!

But as all football fans know, the word's "what" and "if" are the biggest two words in football, but on this day that was all the Rams had to take from this game.  There will be occasions where Ramsgate won't play as well as they did in this game but still run out winners.  But I bet when that happens, they wont be 4-0 down before they start playing!!!

And given manager Wards comments afterwards, I guess that's taken as red as the
Ramsgate's shirts.  Shaking his head, with a mixture of rage and disbelief,
Ward shrugged his shoulders: "What can I say about that Mike?  You saw it
they perhaps were the better side in the first half, but c'mon we gave them two of their goals, and scored the best two of the game.  Heck you wont see a better volley than Stefs, but you cannot defend like we did in the first half."

Skipper Mark Munday was equally as despondent: "We've let ourselves down today, and it was probably the quietest dressing room I can remember being in.  Were still learning in this League, but that's no excuse we can't have a repeat of this performance.  Its good in that way that we've only got to wait until Tuesday to put things right! " 

What Munday didn't mention was the fact that second placed Horsham are the visitors to
Southwood on Tuesday.

As a parting shot the boss added through gritted teeth: "You won't see that performance on Tuesday!" Fingers firmly crossed.