Thursday 01st September 2005
Saturday 14 August 2004 Go Travel Kent League Premier Division Martin Able reports from the Mile End Stadium
Sporting Bengal United 1 Hussain 75
Ramsgate 1 Souter 88

Sporting Bengal prove they aren't pushovers any more

Having won all five of their pre-season friendlies, including opponents from higher leagues such as Dartford, Folkestone Invicta, Sittingbourne and Margate, Ramsgate had clearly made good preparations for their 2004/2005 campaign.

However, Sporting Bengal United, the East London hosts for their first League game of the new season, are also quite a different team to the one that finished their inaugural season in the Kent League in last place back in April, and beat both Ilford and Waltham Forest pre-season.

The game was played on an extremely hot afternoon, and the referee advised the teams before kickoff that he intended having a water-break after the first 25 minutes or so.

The weather was not the only thing that was hot, as both teams began at a furious pace from the whistle - Ramsgate seemed to settle first with Stuart Vahid going close in the 5th minute and a volley from Mo Takaloo 2 minutes later coming off both the crossbar and the far post.

As the game progressed Sporting Bengal started to get into their stride, with the action running from end to end.

Although the home side started to make in roads into the Ramsgate defence, the Rams still seemed to hold the balance of play, and in the 38th minute Stuart Vahid managed to slot one of the many chances he had created into the net, only for it to be ruled offside.

In response Sporting Bengal raised their game, and would have taken the lead themselves only a few minutes later had it not been for an excellent save at full stretch by Lee Pilcher.

Sporting Bengal kept up the pressure as the first half came to a close, and some uncharacteristically loose defending by the Rams in injury time allowed Abul Hussain to volley from inside the area, leaving Pilcher no chance and taking the lead.

The second half started much as the first half finished, with the game being played at a frantic pace but with Sporting Bengal making slightly more chances than the visitors, although ‘keepers Pilcher and Ian Brewster were both making great saves in their respective goals.

However, as the half progressed, so the balance of the game appeared to start to shift.

Ramsgate again started to dominate the midfield, in no small part through the tireless work of Warren Schulz, and in the 70th minute Sporting Bengal replaced their goal scorer with Daniel Rowan.

In the 75th minute the Rams nearly levelled the score, when Mo Takaloo’s low driving shot could not be held by Brewster, but the ‘keeper managed to snatch the ball back from feet of Stuart Vahid.

In the 83rd minute Ramsgate manager Jim Ward made a triple substitution, with Aaron Robinson, Vinny Woolford and Kevin Billings replacing Simon Pettit, Paul Downer and Shaun Brown.

The injection of fresh legs proved to be more than the home side could cope with, and Ramsgate laid siege on the Sporting Bengal goal.

Their reward came with an equaliser as the game went into stoppage time, when Shane Suter drove the ball from the left wing over the flailing arms of Brewster and into the far top corner of the goal.

The game was not yet over, and the Rams came close to scoring twice more in the several minutes added by the referee, but when the whistle finally blew a draw was probably the fairest result for the contest.

Ramsgate: L.Pilcher, S.Brown (K.Billings), A.Hadden, E.Vahid, O.Schulz, P.Downer (V.Woolford), S.Suter, W.Schulz, S.Vahid, M.Takalobighashi, S.Pettit (A.Robinson) Subs not used: B.Kerslake, G.Taylor.

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