Warboys Town have played at the Sports Field on Forge Way since their inception 138 years ago. The ground is on the Southern edge of the village and is part of a sports facility that is also home to the local cricket club. These days there are housing developments surrounding three sides of the sports field but I assume when Warboys first played here this was not the case.
Acces from Forge Way brings you into a parking area adjacent to the clubhouse, on your left. The cricket ground and small pavilion is immediately to your right, the football pitch directly in front, with aa walkway leading from the clubhouse to the pitch. Straddling the halfway line on the left-hand side of the pitch is the main stand which features covered standing for spectators, with a raised area in the centre which gives a view over the dugouts, one either side of the halfway line. The opposite side of the pitch is only marked by a respect barrier as it encroaches onto the cricket ground. The pitch looked to be very flat and in excellent condition.
Both sides have played in higher leagues in the past. Warboys have spent time in the United Counties structure and in the Eastern Counties League, where they achieved Premier League status for five seasons in the early part of this century. Ramsey also played in the United Counties League, winning the Division One title in 1989. However, in more recent times whilst in the Peterborough & District League, both sides have had quite a turbulent history which has included promotions, relegations and teams folding. Oddly, considering their closeness in terms of mileage, league encounters have been few and far between recently, with the sides somehow managing to be in different divisions. This changed after the two Covid affected seasons, when both teams found themselves in Division One. Warboys went on to win the league by 8 points with Ramsey in fifth spot. The Witches won 3-2 at Ramsey in October and then, with the title already in the bag, the teams drew 1-1 back at Warboys Sports Field. Both sides attained promotion to the Premier League for the 2022/23 season and once again it was Warboys who fared better. The Witches finished third, only seven points adrift of champions Uppingham Town. Meanwhile, Ramsey propped up the table but were spared relegation. The teams met three times over the season with Warboys winning on every occasion, 4-2 at Ramsey and 2-0 at home in the league encounters. Warboys also won a League Cup Quarter Final tie 6-2 on their way to the Final, which they lost on penalties to Moulton Harrox.
The current season started with defeat and a red card for both teams on opening day. Ramsey went down 4-0 at Uppingham with Daniel Pratt getting an early bath. Jake Thornton picked up two yellows as Warboys threw away a three goal lead to lose 6-4 at Crowland. So, not just local pride at stake this time around. Both teams also needed to kickstart their campaigns.
After a lively start to the game it was the visitors who struck the first effort on target when Zak Stevens tried his luck from the edge of the box. It was a comfortable save for Kye Gilmour but a warning to the home side that Ramsey meant business. The Witches responded well and Joe Furness had an eighth minute header saved by Harry Walker in what was a fairly even opening ten minutes. The home side then began to take more control. George Terry's jinking 13th minute run took him past a couple of Rams defenders but his tame shot was easily dealt with by Walker. Then a minute later Furness went even closer when he saw his shot beat Walker but come back off the bar. The home side looked to have Ramsey pinned back but just after the quarter hour the visitors demonstrated how dangerous they could be on the break when they put together a slick counter attack which culminated in Nathan Ginty being denied a clear goal scoring opportunity by a last ditch tackle that deflected his shot for a corner. There were muted claims for a penalty but, to be honest, there was not too much in it.
That counter attack proved to be the precursor to Ramsey taking the lead and it was another sharp counter attack that turned the tide. A Warboys attack broke down and Ginty launched an inch-perfect diagonal ball from right to left, directly into the path of Sam Waters. The winger drove toward the corner of the penalty area before striking a low shot past Gilmour's left hand, into the far corner. 0-1.
A goal behind to only the second strike on target, Warboys tried to hit back quickly. Thornton's curling strike went just over Walker's bar and Furness was once agin quite close when his free-kick from the edge of the box whistled over the bar. Then just before the break, Thornton once again went close when he volleyed just over the bar with Walker beaten. Warboys were applying plenty of pressure but just could not find an equaliser. Whilst it always felt that Ramsey could do damage on the break, the majority of the half, after the opening goal, was played in the visitor's half.
HT Warboys Town 0 Ramsey Town 1. Warboys with the majority of possession but it's waht you do with it that counts. Ramsey chances have been fee and far between but they made one count and go into the break a goal to the good.
Just past the hour mark a Furness fee-kick from the edge of the box went straight at Walker and then, as the home side upped the effort to find an equaliser, substitute Matt Brown cut in from the left only to see his goal bound effort deflected wide for a corner.
In an almost carbon copy of first half events, and despite the home side camping out in the Ramsey half, it was once again the visitors who made the most of their opportunity when it presented itself. Ginty, who had been at the centre of everything Ramsey did, burst into the home penalty area and was tripped. There were no arguments as the referee pointed to the spot. It was a clear penalty. Zak Stevens took responsibility, duly slotted home the spot-kick and just like that it was 0-2.
Unbowed, Warboys were straight back on the offensive, now chasing two goals. Matt Brown, who had looked very lively since his introduction, saw a header blocked almost on the line but, stretching for the rebound, could only lash the loose ball over the top. Then with just under 15 minutes remaining, Duncan broke down the right-flank before delivering a tantalising ball across the Ramsey six-yard line, inches out of reach of Brown. The home side were certainly not giving up the ghost, and once more the game was being played inside the Ramsey half. Once more, the Ramsey defence looked assured most of the time. It was beginning to look like one of those nights for The Witches. A goal back with ten minutes remaining would have made it interesting. As it happened they did get a goal, but it was in the 91st minute when a corner from the right was met by a diving header from Jake Thornton. 1-2. Too little, too late perhaps? Well, they did apply some very late pressure and came close again in the 94th minute, but Ramsey held on to claim their first points of the season.
FT Warboys Town 1 Ramsey Town 2. A very hard-earned three pints for Ramsey Town. The match statistics fo rthis game would make interesting reading. Warboys certainly had more possession than Ramsey. They also had more attempts at goal and probably more on target. However, the statistic thast really counts is the final score and there was no denying the effort that The Rams had put in to securing that. Not knowing either of these teams or their styles, it's hard to say if the game went according to Ramsey's game plan or not but it did feel like the classic Muhammad Ali tactic of Rope a Dope. Whatever the case, as a neutral observer, it was a highly enjoyable game to watch in a very pleasant location, with both teams contributing to the entertainment.
Ramsey travel to Peterborough on Saturday as they take on Netherton United at The Grange. Meanwhile, Warboys make the trip to Leicestershire as they face Oakham United.
Warboys Town: 1.Gilmour, 2.S.Duncan, 3.Franz, 4.M.Duncan(c), 12.Dearlove, 6.Short, 7.Furness, 8.England, 9.Thornton, 10.Terry, 11.Bennett. Subs: 18.Brown, 14.Gibbs, 15.Darlow, 16.Stones, 17.B.Duncan
Ramsey Town: 1.Walker, 2.Hill, 3.Pratt, 4.Short, 5.Radford, 6.Ginty, 7.Waters, 8.Rothery(c), 9.Stevens, 10.Mays, 11.McKenna. Subs: 12. Roger, 14.Timmins, 15.Rayment, 16.Manchett
Ground Number: 371