Last Gasp Skem do it Again

By Martin Stewart

Marvel Studios have a clever trick to make sure that all fans of their films stay beyond the end credits and wait to watch what is usually a teaser for a future film.   Skelmersdale United may have cottoned onto this tactic as a way of ensuring their fans don’t slope off deep into injury time to get to the bar first, by making a habit of scoring late, late goals.   On many occasions this season a goal in added time has saved a point or even captured all three for the boys in blue and Saturday’s encounter with Ramsbottom was another to add to the list.

Unusually sunny and dry for the time of year the game kicked off at the beautifully appointed ‘Harry Williams Riverside Stadium’ with a slightly changed Skem side from the one that beat Squires Gate last weekend.   New signing Haris Bouraima started in defence in place of the absent Mo Jabir, whilst Yasir Salim returned from suspension to replace Andy Mandjoba upfront.

The opening encounters were untidy, with the home side pinning back Skem who seemed to be struggling with a bobbly pitch and mis-placing their passes.  After just two minutes a decent chance for Rammy came from a corner, however despite domination of the ball Rammy were unable to create much else to trouble Ben Barnes.

It took until the 11th minute for Skem to even get into their opponent’s third of the pitch and even then a sortie by Mark Bollongino quickly evaporated into nothing.

Four minutes later Bollongino expertly controlled a long ball forward, he couldn’t get a shot away but a poor clearance from Tommy Lent for the home side presented a chance to Salim.  He latched onto it quickly and his shot was deflected into the corner of the net to give Skem an unlikely lead.

Just as Skem were now starting to settle, two quick chances were created by Ramsbottom.  First a header was placed just wide by Kuda Chingwaro, then Matthew Birchall drew a smart save from Barnes as he volleyed a shot from close range.

Barnes had to make another save with his legs on 25 minutes and then Bouraima almost scooped one into his own net under pressure from Dylan Fitzgerald.   The hosts wasted two more gilt edged chances to equalise before half time, first Birchall failing with a free header straight at Barnes and then a corner was flicked off the crossbar by John Black.  HT 0-1

If the opening minutes of the first half were scrappy and uneventful, the opening of the second were the exact opposite.   Just a minute after the restart Skem had a good break down the left by Dana Amaral, but his cross drifted behind the goal.

A minute later up the other end Matthew Dudley had a clear chance to score but shot weakly.   Then quickly back up to the Rammy end and Nelson Digbeu of all people attempted a pot shot from distance that was way over.

Skem were certainly now into their stride and looking more comfortable at both ends of the pitch.  Luke Sephton was allowed to shoot over the bar with a speculative effort from 20 yards but all in all United controlled the game well until the hour mark.

Matthew Dudley’s strike took a fortunate deflection to send it past Barnes, but on the balance of play you could not deny that home side deserved bit of luck to get the equaliser.

The final fifteen minutes of the match looked like it was going to settle into what was probably a deserved draw for both teams, but then along came stoppage time and for Skem to do what Skem do.

As the clock ticked into 95 minutes both sets of supporters were switching second by second from screaming at the ref to blow the whistle to screaming at their own team to have a shot depending on where the ball was on the pitch.

A rare corner for Skem was taken by Kristian Knowles and with a packed box to aim at he placed his centre to perfection hanging right under the middle of the crossbar.  Under pressure, Ryan Hamer fumbled and Billy Ahmed was on hand to bundle the ball home.

Strangely, with about thirty delirious Skem fans going crazy right in front of him, he and his teammates chose to celebrate the last gasp winner in a quiet corner with no-one else around, perhaps this smash and grab raid didn’t deserve too much of a wild commemoration to rub disgruntled home supporters noses in it.  FT 1-2

This is United’s fifth win in their last eight games, three of which have come on the road and also their first back to back league wins of the season.   Still bottom of the league, but if building up a run of performances is needed to avoid the drop, Skem seem to be timing it just right.

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