RAMSBOTTOM’S dream of causing an FA Trophy shock was ended on Saturday as Stockport County secured a 3-0 win at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

But the Rams, playing one league below their more illustrious opponents, were far from outclassed in a game played in wintry conditions.

Indeed It took a controversial penalty decision to put County ahead just three minutes in.

Whatever trepidations the visitors that may might have had in of facing a difficult afternoon at the Riverside were eased when the referee somehow saw a movement of hand to ball from to a driven shot from outside the box penalty area and awarded a penalty.

County’s former Everton striker Scott Spencer, brother of Ramsbottom striker Grant, put away the spot-kick with a minimum of fuss.

There was an unusual sense of resigned acceptance if not expectation at going behind from the Rams.

Nonetheless, they responded well and for the next 20 minutes or so they pressed forward and had chances to equalise.

Phil Dean might have done better from around the penalty spot, but his somewhat diffident shot was diverted over the bar for a corner.

Twice Danny Hurst in the Stockport goal had to plunge low to his right to palm away shots bound for the bottom corner, and on each occasion the Rams were unable to get to the rebound first.

Stockport though, were dangerous on the break and looked threatening from numerous free kicks.

From one on From one on 25 minutes, the ball fell obligingly to the feet of Danny Gregson who lashed the ball past a helpless Grant Shenton to double County’s lead.

For the remainder of the half, the Rams became increasingly frustrated by decisions made by the referee, not least when Grant Spencer was penalised for handball when he collapsed onto the ball after being tripped from behind.

It was no wonder that the referee’s reappearance after the break was received with loud catcalls from the home support.

With a strong and well drilled back four, Stockport clearly considered that they had the game in the bag and for the remainder of the match were content to sit back and soak up the pressure applied by their opposition.

For long periods the Rams were camped in their half without ever really looking like opening up the visitors.

Their first real opportunity came after a save for a diagonal ball was played into Jordan Hume, who managed to gain which presented him with a yard of space and a good shooting opportunity. Unfortunately his shot just lacked the power to evade Stockport’s scrambling goalkeeper.

At the other end, only a series of brave blocks by Steve Howson denied Stockport as the Rams pressed forward to get themselves back into the game.

There was a persistent feeling that if the Rams could grab a goal, the final stages might prove interesting.

But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished with 10 minutes left when Shenton’s failure to deal with an incoming cross neither stuck nor twisted in dealing with a cross and left Jordan Lazenby with the easiest of headers to get himself on the scoresheet.

That sealed the visitors’ progress into round two and leaves Ramsbottom looking instead to reignite their promotion charge in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division, where they now face Kings Lynn Town on Saturday.

It is to be hoped that with a challenging set of fixtures ahead and two cup losses in a week, having exited the Lancashire Challenge Trophy at the hands of Atherton Collieries, that this is not the start of a winter of discontent.