Another low scoring game for the men’s team…
…was not on the cards on Saturday at Wadham Lodge.
420 fans rolled up for Clapton’s return to the Walthamstow stadium after a trio of 1-2 wins on their travels. Their side pretty much knocked NW London out of the contest with four first half goals.
Geoff Ocran demonstrated the strength in depth in his squad, with bags of experience and talent to call upon from the bench should reinforcements be needed.
Out of the traps
Fred Taylor had an early practice shot past the post. He only needed one. On 6 minutes Arthur Wright drove into space in the middle of the NW half. He stroked Taylor in on the right. The striker buried low.
The visitors were controlling possession. As we’ve seen in their teams for years now, they know how to look after the ball. Rather than lash at any half chance, they are able to play a couple of extra touches in the box if it will get someone into a better position. Something you don’t see a lot at this level and have to admire.
Luckily for the Tons, NW’s shots weren’t connecting. At first, at least.
On 16 minutes Clapton got themselves a two goal advantage.
Musa Manneh fired in a free kick from the left. The goalkeeper flapped. Wright glanced home.
At one point, a NW London defender attempted an overhead bicycle kick clearance on the edge of his own box. He barely connected, but still, that deserved a round of applause.
Then on 24 minutes the visitors got a goal back. More calm passes on the edge of the Clapton box, with a calm finish this time too.
On the half hour mark the Tons restored their cushion. Manneh drove into that pocket of space in front of the NW back four. He clipped an audacious effort with the outside of the left boot into the corner, the curve deceiving the goalkeeper.
The Tons got their fourth on 39 minutes. Again the NW keeper struggled with a ball in from the right. Wright mopped up the spill and stroked into the net.
It ain’t over ’til it’s over
The Clapton faithful know that even at 4-1, the points were not safe. The last game the men’s first team played in Walthamstow ended 8-6. They have history in drawing 4-4 against this opposition, in the same stadium, in April 2019.
For the first half of the second half, the game actually threatened to get a bit dull. Clapton sat back on their lead. They restricted NW to the kind of long shot that Jack Francis will scoop up all day long (and even in the night when he’s sleeping).
The Tons back four were snuffing out any danger. The 420 crowd were happy to see NW’s attack blunted.
Clapton didn’t threaten to stretch their lead until a Noah Adejokun breakaway on 70 minutes. With the keeper rushing out he tried to turn the defender who was tracking him. He was then brutally scythed down (according to CCFC support behind goal) or skilfully disposed (according to referee). Sadly, it’s the latter’s opinion that matters.
Shortly afterwards, NW threatened to make it a bit tense when their number 10 thumped into the bottom corner having lost his man in the box. 4-2.
Still NW attacked. They shot for the bottom corner in the last minute. A wicked deflection sent it to the opposite corner, but Francis sprung back to save.
Still not over
In the last minute of normal time, Wright skinned a NW defender. Flailing on the group, the man in yellow hooked out an arm to fell the Tons forward. Easy call: spot kick.
Stevens did what he does. 5-2 Clapton.
But on the game went. It was like when no one is booked after you in fives and you just wait for the staff to turf you out.
There was even time for another consolation when NW blasted the ball into the net from 8 yards.
Past 5pm, the ref finally blew for full time.
It was a terrific performance from the Tons, to cement their position at the top of the table and send the 420 fans home high as kites.
But as so often at Clapton, there was so much more than just what was happening on the pitch.
The supporters paid tribute to our friend and comrade Marcin. The stand shook to chants of ‘Forza Marcin’ growing louder and louder over the opening stages of the game.
As one banner said:
ONCE A TON. FOREVER A TON. REST IN POWER.
Player of the match