despatched Merstham of the Combined Counties League in the previous round,
Ramsgate found themselves travelling back to Surrey to face fellow-Ryman
League Division One side Croydon Athletic in the First Qualifying Round of
this year’s FA Cup, writes Arran Ayres.
The hosts, who are one place below Ramsgate in the league following an
opening run of three games unbeaten, also bear the nickname ‘The
Rams’, referring to sponsorship by the Youngs Brewery in a previous
incarnation as Wandsworth FC.
sides started strongly and at a fast pace, the host’s line-up including
three players from AFC Wimbledon and one (Joe Sherrin) who had come on as
sub for Zola at Chelsea.
However, it was Ramsgate that had the first chance in the opening minute,
when Michael Yianni found Steffan Ball on the right wing, who rode the
challenge of Steve Gibson and crossed from the by-line to Shane Suter in
front of goal, but his side-footed effort went over.
Two minutes later the visitors had another great opportunity, when Shaun
Welford broke through the defence but was brought down, but goalkeeper
Luke Garrard saved Suter’s 22 yard free kick.
The game continued at a very brisk pace and, with each side winning the
occasional corner and free kicks, seemed to become more evenly balanced.
Both sides made chances for goals, and while Danny Twyman was called on to
make a number of spectacular saves from Sheerin and Eben Allen.
Garrard was also quite busy thanks to efforts from Welford, Ball, Suter
and Warren Schulz.
On 26 minutes Jim Ward switched Yianni and Ball over, with immediate
impact, as Ball shook off his marker to put a sweet cross into the box,
that was just reached by Garrard before the onrushing Edd Vahid.
In the 39th minute Croydon Athletic had perhaps their best
chance, when Sheerin slipped through Ramsgate’s defence and was left
with only Twyman to beat, however, the big goalkeeper was evaded by the
former Chelsea striker, but was thwarted by Edd Vahid.
the second period Ramsgate appeared to find their rhythm again and, with
only six minutes of the half gone, a fine forward cross by Michael Cassar
found Welford, who stormed past two defenders before being brought down in
the area by Jon Waite, who was promptly shown the red card.
Steffan Ball made no mistake with a well-driven penalty to give Ramsgate
Ramsgate continued to press although Croydon Athletic kept battling, and
on one of the home side’s forays Ollie Schulz was penalised on the edge
of the area. The resulting free kick found it’s way to Allen, who
equalised from a very acute angle.
With David Cory and James Gregory replacing Yianni and Cassar in the 66th
minute, Ward subtly changed the shape again, with Ramsgate looking more
settled and making some great passing moves.
The thunder and lightning started shortly before Ramsgate’s final
substitution on 84 minutes, with Simon Pettit replacing Ball, but the
visitors continued to apply the pressure and dominated the closing
On 85 minutes a trademark long ball from the wing forced the best from
Garrard to punch clear, and a minute later a great ball through from
Welford saw Cory turn and volley in the area to leave Garrard no chance
and restore Ramsgate’s lead.
midfield now belonged to the visitors and further efforts followed from
Suter, Cory, and the hardworking Welford.
In stoppage time an intelligent ball from Gregory found Cory, who released
Welford on yet another run to break through 1-on-1 with Garrard, who
bravely stopped Welford’s first shot but could not reach his attempt
from the rebound.
the game manager manager Jim Ward said: “Today was our best
performance this season in a match, as they were the best footballing side
we have played against so far.
"They were full of quality players – it’s the first time this
season I wouldn’t have minded 4 or 5 of their players, quality in loads
of different positions.
"The boys have done their stuff today. They rode their luck a couple
of times in the first half but to be fair ran out deserved winners in the
"It was good to see three of my forwards getting the goals –
continuing to be successful these are the guys who have to get on the end
"Again, it just shows you the depth of the squad, that Mark (Munday)
and Stuart (Vahid) were missing today, who a lot of people feel are two of
the better players at the club.
"The beauty of the FA Cup is it gives us an opportunity now, with the
luck of the draw, who knows, maybe a team from the Ryman Premier Division,
which I’m sure will put a smile on my Chairman’s face."
In today's (Monday) draw, Ramsgate missed out on a cup-tie with a Ryman
Premier League side, but should progress into the third qualifying round,
when lower league side Southall visit Southwood Stadium in two weeks time.
Ward takes his side to Molesey (Walton Road) on Saturday in a Ryman League
Division One fixture.