By Chris Vettraino
RAM FC 6 – 2 RNCM Football
Scorers (assisted by)
Timur Dzhafarov (Chris Vettraino)
Ari Olafsson (Gerard Flotats)
Will Thomas (Ari Olafsson)
Will Thomas (Gerard Flotats)
Ari Olafsson (Marcus Dawson)
GK – Fergus McCready
RB – Will Parker
CB – Charlie Howells
CB – Alec Ross
LB – Gerard Flotats
RM – Seamus Bradbury
CM – Chris Vettraino (c)
CM – Will Thomas
LM – Marcus Dawson
ST – Ari Olafsson
ST – Max Jones-Lachman
Man of the Match
Donkey of the Match
Following the distant away trip to play Trinity Laban two weeks prior, it was a welcome change of scenery to host a home game in Islington, just a short trip from the Academy. This also gave RAM FC’s fast-growing fanbase a chance to come out in force with some 40 colleagues, friends, and family standing on the sidelines to support the troops. A great atmosphere was in place for a team featuring seven RAM debutants, adding on to the eight players who began their RAM careers against Trinity Laban.
The game had a cagey opening due to the substantial headwind RAM found themselves fighting against for the first half. Keeping possession wasn’t proving particularly difficult, but attacking chances were few and far between when nature is insistent on blowing the ball back towards your own goal every chance it gets.
To their credit, RNCM turned up for the fight despite the stiff legs that must come with a 4-hour coach journey. Some persistent and intense pressure from their forwards made life tricky for the RAM back line, and RNCM were wise to make use of the passes over the top which were carried seemingly forever by the wind.
The opening goal went to the away team. Some chaotic defending by the Rams from a corner kick allowed RNCM to eventually bundle the ball into the net. A handball allegedly played a part in the scuffle, but through such a crowd it was always going to be difficult for the ref to see, and so RAM were behind 0-1.
Very little time passed before things got worse. A free kick for RNCM some 35 yards from goal floated through the air into the box, and RAM were slow to react. The wind carried the ball straight over the defense and three different RNCM players were left to fight it out for who would get the goal. One of them did, and it was 0-2 in RNCM’s favour.
RAM began to settle more into the game, creating real chances down the wings and occasionally fighting through the wind with passes over the top. The fightback began when Dawson found the space down the left wing to run into the RNCM box. A nifty bit of skill baited the defender into a bad tackle and RAM were rightly awarded a penalty kick. However, Vettraino stepped up to take the penalty and blasted it wildly over the crossbar, so RAM would have to wait for the breakthrough (video of the frankly horrific penalty available on request).
After winning a throw-in in the RNCM half, Vettraino looked to take it quickly, and Dzhafarov understood the assignment. Launching the ball over the defender’s head, Vettraino found his man making a darting run in behind, and the striker latched on to the ball. The substitute made no mistake in shrugging off the RCNM centre back – so far the visiting team’s standout player – and slotted the ball past the keeper to give RAM their opening goal shortly before the break.
There was still plenty of belief in the Rams at half time. Having put up a strong fight and, at times, a dominating display against the first half headwind, not a single player in that huddle would have bet against their team coming out on top. The Captain made some changes to bring some fresh legs into the game, and the second half got underway.
Not two minutes went by before RAM equalised.
In return for the chaotic goal that RAM conceded in the first half, they scored one of their own. After a cross into the box, the ball began pinballing around, with defenders attempting to clear, attackers attempting to score, and the goalkeeper attempting to save. Eventually Flotats bundled the ball home, and RAM were level.
The game stayed quite even for a time, with the next notable moment coming when RAM’s Roberts clumsily brought down an RNCM attacker in the box to give away a penalty – a Donkey-level offence as it turned out at the post-match vote. All of RAM’s hard work was set to be undone, as the game hung in the balance at 2-2 and the ball was placed on the penalty spot, a prime chance for RNCM to retake the lead.
Never fear, McCready is here. An outstanding penalty save – with his feet – kept the game at 2-2 (video available on request).
Spurred on by their ‘keeper’s heroics, RAM piled on the pressure. Flotats flew down the right-hand side, absolutely burning up the RNCM left back – a common theme of the second half – and floated a cross into the box. Olafsson freshly moved out of defense and back into attack. He headed it home past the helpless goalkeeper and RAM took the lead for the first time. After 60 minutes, the RAM support finally got to see their team take the lead, and a small pitch invasion ensued, led primarily by the nuisances known as RAM Football Hooligans (no official partnership with RAM FC). Eventually the pitch cleared, and the game was able to continue.
The Rams extended their lead shortly after with a beautifully worked team goal showing off all the training that the team had put in before the season began. Vettraino lofted a pass through the air to hit Bradbury, who headed it on into the path of Olafsson. Driving forward toward goal, Olafsson spotted Thomas storming along with him, and the Icelander unselfishly squared the ball. Initially bottling the opportunity, Thomas hit the post, but the rebound fell kindly for him and at the second attempt he put RAM 4-2 ahead.
Whether it was the long coach journey that morning, a lack of substitutes, or perhaps a lack of experience in their first game of the season, the wheels fell off for RNCM. Jones-Lachman, Flotats, and Thomas began causing absolute mayhem down the wings, and proved to be too much for their opponents to handle. Thomas got his second of the game after getting on to a quick throw-in taken by Flotats – the Man of the Match involved yet again – and Olafsson finished off the 5-0 second-half display with a fine finish assisted by Dawson.
And so it was, RAM wrapped up a 6-2 win in their first ever matchup against RNCM. Two wins out of two to start the season, with nine goals scored, and two second-half clean sheets. Some work to be done from the penalty spot with four penalties won and only two scored, but that’s nothing that can’t be sorted on the training ground. Come on you Rams.
Join us on Sunday 21st November at Market Road Football Pitches for our match against RCM with a 14:15 kickoff, as our season continues with the Royal London Derby.