After the longest away trip the Academy has had this season, to the Earlsmead Stadium in Harrow, the young Rams weren’t in the mood to simply make up the numbers on a pitch described as heavy and lumpy - not the type of pitch suited to the visitors’ passing game.
The Rams sit proudly at the top of the league table, having taken 21 points from a possible 24 with seven wins out of eight, but unlike some other sides in the league who have a few exceptional flair players, the Rams’ are very much a team that play for each other as a unit. Ramsgate’s ethos is built on a solid defence, with centre backs Leon Guess, Jacob Mensah and Liam backed up by Charlie Cousins in goal, with wing backs Harvey Laws and Randall Bax. In front of this there is the speed and agility of Josh Maher, Tijan Jadama and Jack Hinkley in midfield, plus the quickness of Corey Hanson and Semon Murphy, who once again scored a brace from the others’ hard work.
In the opening encounters Ramsgate forced Boro back deep into their third of the pitch. As early as the 6th minute Ramsgate had taken the lead when lively Harvey Laws sent a delightful cross into the path of Semon Murphy to put the Rams one up. This woke Boro up and Charlie Cousins made a couple of telling stops and saves to keep Ramsgate on top. Laws was causing problems all game and it was no surprise when in the 22nd minute his shot came of the woodwork at the far post and into the net giving the Rams a two goal lead, which they maintained into the break.
The second half saw Boro begin to pass the ball around, but their shots were dealt with by the defence, well marshalled by the much improving Leon Guess. In the 69th minute, Ramsgate made a double substitution, with Gavin Rayner and Declan Sacks replacing hard working Jack Hinkley and Liam Perquin. This paid dividends and only five minutes later Guess, who was putting in a ‘man of the match’ performance, sent a delightful through-ball to the lightening-quick Murphy, who didn’t need a second chance to slot past the Harrow ‘keeper for his 2nd and a 3-0 lead (Murphy pictured above with arm raised celebrating the goal). With 12 minutes to go Ramsgate’s two final subs came on - Hadley Holden for the hardworking Randall Bax (who kept their 9 at bay by any means he could all afternoon) and Robbie Deacon for Josh Maher who played well in midfield all afternoon. With the clock running down, and Ramsgate in control after weathering the early Boro second onslaught, Corey Hanson latched onto a through ball to put the Rams four up on 81. Only 2 minutes later, sub Declan Sacks showed he was not to be denied on his debut, and slotted home the fifth to round off a 5-star performance.
A great result, especially as the players had sat on the minibus for nearly three hours in the early morning rush hour around the M25 to get to Harrow for the lunchtime kickoff. Now on the Christmas break, the next game for the academy is the home fixture on 24 January against PFA UK North London, the only side the Rams have lost to, after which there is a well-earned tour to Marbella in Spain to look forward to.
Updated 13:40 - 11 Jan 2018 by Edward Lucas
Rams Academy: Charlie Cousins, Harvey Laws, Randall Bax (Hadley Holden), Liam Perquin (Declan Sacks), Jacob Mensah, Leon Guess, Josh Maher (Robbie Deacon), TJ Jadama, Jack Hinkley (Gavin Rayner), Corey Hanson, Semon Murphy.