The long wait is over for Ramsgate
Fourth Qualifying Round
|Mike Green reports from Southwood Stadium|
|It may have been 50 years since a side from Ramsgate had
played in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, but boy oh boy, did
Jimmy Ward's side make up for lost time, with this crushing display,
writes Mike Green.
Going into the game there was a genuine buzz around Southwood that it was going to be the Rams day, and not even "only" drawing Nuneaton Borough or Tiverton Town in the First Round Proper could dampen a glorious Thanet late October afternoon.
The game started at a frenetic pace with little football on display but plenty of rugged tackles flying about - three booked in the opening 12 minutes surely testament in itself the referee stamped an authority on the game that was respected by all.
You always felt that the game was crying out for one of the home side to just put their foot on the ball and slow the early tempo down a touch. That was achieved somewhat by skipper Mark Munday, who used his vast experience to give the home side a decent foothold in the game and it was little surprise when Ramsgate created the first real chance.
It came on 20 minutes when Shaun Welford was released by an exquisite pass from Edd Vahid. Welford got away from the defence and rounded Cirencester keeper Paul Thompson. Give the keeper the credit though as he forced Welford wide allowing defenders a chance to get back and scramble the shot off the line.
The visitors responded well and tough rugged centre forward Gareth Hopkins wrong footed home keeper Danny Ryman with a low shot that bobbled just past the left post.
Chance of the half though came just seven minutes from the break and could have been designed the Vahid's back yard. Edd drilled a cross field ball which the defence couldn't cope with and all of a sudden brother Stuart was through. As he bore down on goal, the keeper came out and was big and strong, and produced a fine block, and was even able to fall on the rebound as Stefan Ball hurtled in!
So evens at the break with nothing to indicate to the nearly 700 crowd what was to follow - 45 minutes that will go down in the history of Ramsgate Football Club. 45 minutes that clinched the current clubs place in the First Round proper for the very first time (when the club lasted reached Round One it was as "Ramsgate Athletic").
It all began ten minutes into the half. A huge throw into the Cirencester box by Welford caused mayhem. Warren Schulz nodded on for brother Ollie who did really well to hold off a defender and as the ball ricocheted back to brother Warren, he gleefully drilled home his third goal of the season to send the home fans wild!
Naturally with such a huge prize at stake the visitors upped their game, with the powerful Hopkins doing all he could to rally his side despite outstanding performances by the home central defensive partnership of Ollie Schulz and Liam Morris.
The pendulum was beginning to swing towards the visitors despite being behind, and on 71 minutes Hopkins really should have levelled. A huge kick from keeper Thompson completely deceived the Rams defence and suddenly the striker was clean through. Twyman though (as his counter part Thompson had done in the first half) stood up brilliantly to deny Hopkins' drive, and you really did think that the home side were on the
A back foot that was then 90 seconds later saved by the woodwork! Cirencester skipper Neil Arndale went down the right and put over a brilliant cross which was met by the deftest of headers by the diminutive Steve Cowe. The striker (playing with no number on his back after an earlier blood spillage) was turning away to salute the goal as the ball beat the flying Twyman - but how relieved were the home faithful when the ball
rebounded off of the right post and Morris was on hand to blast the ball away - indeed it was last seen heading towards Margate!!!
Unsurprisingly the visitors now visibly deflated, and seeing this Ward sent on Shane Suter for Stuart Vahid who had worked tirelessly down the left for the cause all afternoon.
And what an introduction Suter had on the game on 79 minutes - he'd only been on the pitch a matter of minutes.
After the visitors introduced striker Paul Hunt for defender Craig Fullam and went to three at the back, all of a sudden Ramsgate found some room. and with fresh legs! Full back Michael Cassar played a great ball down the inside left channel to Suter who took advantage of the visitors defence still reorganising. Advancing to the edge of the area, the "Super Sub" unleashed a truly magnificent drive screaming across Thompson and bulging in the back of the Cirencester net.
That was nearly that, but there was still time for a third and this belonged to the Ramsgate subs bench! With the 90 minutes up, Suter again led the charge forward down the left. This time he saw Michael Yianni hurtling forward (himself a late sub for the wonderful Welford) - the square ball was brilliant, but Yianni's low drive was perfection itself and now the party could begin.
Southwood had been graced by a truly Ramsgate performance and now all eyes
and ears were trained on the TV or radio's for the First Round draw. A hush went round when Nottingham Forest came out of the hat first, and a groan when it wasn't the Rams ball 78 that came out next. When the waited for ball did come out it was away from home at either Nuneaton Borough or Tiverton Town - and the immediate reaction of the skipper was to just shrug his shoulders (especially after his former club Folkestone Invicta had just been drawn to go to League Two side Chester City).
"We've got to be realistic," he said. "We would have liked a game here, but we've got to
believe it's a game we can win!" Views echoed by his Chairman Richard Lawson: "It's our Cup Final," he said beaming. "This is what we believe Southwood should be all about - just look at all these people!"
The final word though must go to the man masterminded it all. "This may have been a surprise now Mike," the manager warned. "But it won't be next time. It's a tough draw, but hey that's what the Cup's all about!"
One thing that seemed to escape everyone attention was that the First Round will
take place on November 5th! Fireworks anyone??? You bet - this is the Greatest Cup Competition in the World and just gets better and better - even if it did take Ramsgate 50 years to achieve their dream of a place in the First Round.
|Ramsgate: Twyman, E Vahid, Casser, Morris, O Schulz,
Laslett, Munday, W
Schulz, Welford (Yianni), Ball (Cory), S Vahid (Suter)
Cirencester Town: Thompson Arndale Fullam (Hart), Richards, Horgan, Viveash, Robinson, Smith, Hopkins, Cowe, Halliday