By Chris Vettraino
Trinity Laban 2 – 3 RAM FC
Max Jones-Lachmann (pen)
Sheku Kanneh-Mason (pen)
GK – Fergus McCready
RB – George Strivens
CB – Tom Fesmer
CB – Jamie Howe
LB – Alec Ross
CDM – Chris Vettraino (c)
RM – Tom Leighton-Jones
LM – Alex Papp
CAM – Ari Olafsson
ST – Sheku Kanneh-Mason
ST – Max Jones-Lachman
Man of the Match
Donkey of the Match
Ari Olafsson for a missed penalty
Nearly two years on from RAM FC’s last competitive match, the excitement was in the air for an almighty away-day. Matchday One of the 21/22 season, and a 13-mile trip to Eltham to face Trinity Laban awaited the squad.
The lack of routine and familiarity became apparent early on when young talent Pires failed to make the midday meeting time outside Academy – always remember to charge your mobile phone folks. Luckily he was still able to make it all the way out to the game in time for kickoff thanks to some hastily scrawled directions on a piece of paper.
After an ultimately pleasant journey to an area of the world which can only questionably be called London, the squad found themselves trudging around Avery Hill Park for 30 minutes before eventually stumbling upon the home side. A good warmup, if nothing else. RAM were not the only side having issues locating the ground however, as it rapidly became clear that Trinity Laban didn’t have a clue which pitch or even changing facilities were to be used. After 15 minutes of deliberating, some pitch-side changing, and a slapdash warmup, it was gametime.
The teething problems of the new season, however, had not yet been escaped. Due to some poor booking management on the side of Avery Hill Park (Trinity Laban not at fault), the home side were kept waiting on a confirmation of kickoff time, which in turn gave the RAM co-captains an alarmingly tight deadline to book a professional and qualified referee – the away team’s job. Inevitably unsuccessful, the match was to be refereed by members of each team’s bench. Sunday league at its finest. Whilst overall there was a definite lack of bias from either side, when the time came to take the whistle, incorrect decisions were unavoidable. Alas, there was still a game to be played.
At last the season was underway, and RAM dominated possession from the get-go. It should be mentioned that Trinity Laban boasted a lot of talent across their lineup, with some standout performances from players all over the pitch. The home side caused many problems throughout the 90 minutes – and were the better team for stretches of the game – but in the end, Trinity Laban were generally on the back foot, never taking the lead.
Individual flashes of brilliance from RAM forwards Papp, Kanneh-Mason, and Jones-Lachman forced some good saves from the Trinity Laban goalkeeper early on, as Olafsson dictated the play in midfield and Vettraino held steady in front of a tight defensive unit. The two centre-backs proved imperious in their aerial battles, and standout debutant and Man of the Match Alec Ross seemed to be absolutely everywhere, never once losing a duel. Calm and considered distribution from Strivens and Leighton-Jones down the right-hand side provided intriguing attacking possibilities, and McCready was on hand in goal to clear up the occasional mess.
It wasn’t until around 25 minutes in that the opening goal presented itself. A foul for handball went – perhaps wrongly – against Trinity Laban just outside the box. Captain Vettraino stepped forward to take the free kick. Let me be clear: it was not a great free kick by any means. Sometimes though, all you need is a small deflection mixed with some unfortunate goalkeeping and you’re 1-0 ahead. Like they say – a goal’s a goal.
It didn’t take long for Trinity Laban to equalize after winning a well-deserved corner. RAM failed to clear their lines and an excellent save from McCready wasn’t enough to prevent Trinity Laban getting the rebound to tap home their first goal and make it 1-1. Not more than five minutes later, Kanneh-Mason worked hard to set up Vettraino for what should have been a certain goal, but a wild blast from the edge of the box sent the ball flying over the crossbar and the game remained level.
The first of three penalties for RAM came less than ten minutes before the end of the half. A late challenge on Olafsson gave the referee no choice, and left the RAM player injured. Unable to take the penalty, Jones-Lachman confidently stepped up in Olafsson’s place and fired it under the goalkeeper for 2-1. Once again, however, RAM found themselves incapable of holding a lead, and a defensive error led to a golden chance for Trinity Laban. One more fantastic save from McCready, but again the home side converted on the rebound.
Half time. 2-2.
The story of RAM’s second half was fitness and injuries. Cramps, knocks, and fatigue plagued the squad as the substitutions came thick and fast, allowing plenty of time for the bench to show their quality – or, in Andrews’ case, lack thereof. As RAM started to tire, Trinity Laban started to dominate, looking for all the world like they may take the lead. Some brilliant goalkeeping and a sensational goal-saving tackle from Toulson kept the game on equal terms.
Then disaster struck. A Trinity Laban free kick flew into the box and, as chaos ensued, the ball found its way into the back of the RAM net. But, miraculously, redemption came in the form of the Trinity Laban assistant manager – who was refereeing the second half – and the sideline judge: an offside call. No goal.
As RAM pressed on for the winning goal, two penalties were awarded in the space of 15 minutes, both for handball – unfortunate not only for the players at fault but for the referee having to give them against his own team. Kanneh-Mason buried the first to the bottom left corner and, after returning to the pitch from injury, Olafsson claimed the ball for the second, having missed the chance to take his own well-earned penalty in the first half. Folks, it was a shocking penalty. Little power, straight down the middle, and comfortably saved by the Trinity Laban goalkeeper.
The last five minutes truly were end-to-end football, with chances going both ways. RAM held on though to claim a glorious 3-2 away win on the opening day of the season, against a Trinity Laban team that RAM hadn’t beaten since 2017! A great start to the year, and a promising sign of things to come.
Upcoming RAM FC Fixtures:
RAM FC vs Royal Northern College of Music, Saturday 6th November 14:15
RAM FC vs Royal College of Music, Sunday 21st November 14:15.
Both matches at Market Road Football Pitches, N7 9PL. Come and support the team!