Another win would put the Tons within touching distance of the title, with only a game against FC Roast left to play. The same is true for Samurai, though, ahead of their league closer at FC Star next weekend.
The stakes are high on both sides.
Of Clapton’s three clashes with Samurai to date, it’s fair to say that luck has been on the side of Geoff Ocran‘s men.
First, the Tons squeezed a 1-0 win in a pre-season friendly on the 3G pitch next to the Stray Dog. This was largely due to a dominant Samurai squandering a number of good chances.
In the league game in Southall in November, Clapton were battered 5-1. But they later picked up the three points due to a penalty imposed on Samurai by the league for playing ineligible players.
Clearly the outstanding team in the division, Samurai would have been home and hosed weeks ago were it not for the 12-point penalty.
However, their title chase has been hampered by a couple of draws in recent weeks. FC Star held them to 1-1 and they shared six goals with Ealing Town. Both games were at their Spikes Bridge Park home.
They currently sit just one point behind Clapton, with both teams having just two games to play. A draw would hand Stonewall the chance to clinch the title by winning away at Eastfield, also this Saturday.
Samurai manager Hideyuki Miyahara gave us his thoughts on the crucial clash:
This season so far, London Samurai have played 18, won 15, drew two and only lost one in the league. We have already won the league according to these results, but we have been deducted 12 points, so now we are at third on the table. I really want to win both of our last two matches so we still win the league. We have lost a few players who went back to Japan recently, but also we have got a few new players. In the last two matches, we played not bad, but unfortunately could not get the results. We just need to stay strong as a team and need to focus just to get 6 points to win the league properly.
Reflecting on Saturday’s last gasp victory over The Curve, Ocran told us he had faith in his side’s ability and determination to come from behind:
It’s one of those games where you can’t comprehend what’s happened. I didn’t think we were going to lose it at any point. I knew we’d get a draw at minimum. We’ve got this fighting spirit and we’ll never give in.
Looking forward to this weekend’s key clash, coach Sham Darr had the following to say:
Samurai’s a big game. If they win they can win the league. If we win, we can win the league. It’s a cup final. We’re confident. Since Christmas we’ve only lost one game. We’re one of the form teams and we know with Eliot and Sherwin upfront and with Dan between the sticks, we’ve got a chance to win.
For this game why not join the Clapton CFC family bike ride from our historic home, the Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate, to our temporary home, The Stray Dog?
It will be a five-mile leisurely cycle marshalled by Newham Cyclists. There is also a feeder route joining from Hackney Downs. All the information, and to sign up, can be found here.
The Stray Dog is about 20 minutes walk from Walthamstow Central station. Turn onto Hoe Street and follow the road all the way along (past the junction with The Bell pub) until Chingford Lane. Continue past Sir George Monoux 6th Form College and take the first right onto Brookscroft Road then left onto Kitchener Road.
You can catch a bus along that route too. The 357, 34, 97, 215 will all take you to the top of Brookscroft Road from Walthamstow Central (approx 12 minutes).
There’s also plenty of car parking space available at the ground.
Entry to the game is completely free (but we welcome donations, suggested £3 for waged adults).
We’re on the pitch just left as you enter the Wadham Lodge car park. Look out for the Stray Dog sign!
There’s a pitchside bar selling cans of lager, cider and soft drinks. The food situation is TBC.
The toilets and full bar – selling a fuller range of draft beers and more – are in the main building in the car park.
We’ll also have our brilliant programme for sale at £2.
There is a food bank collection for this game on behalf of Walthamstow-based charity Eat or Heat. Please check the list of what they need.
Clapton CFC vs London Samurai Rovers FC is on Saturday, April 27th 2019, at ‘The Stray Dog’, Wadham Lodge Sports Ground, Kitchener Road, Walthamstow, E17 4JP. Join the Facebook event here.