Clapton CFC 2 Edgware Town 1: Mendonca bags late winner

The aim of the game for the women’s first team on Sunday was to consolidate after their excellent win over previously unbeaten Bromley. In wet conditions, Edgware Town proved stubborn opponents.

And while the home side’s performance did not reach the heights of last week, they got the job done in the end.

Space invaders

The big tactical question was how the Tons would adapt to the bigger Wadham Lodge pitch, where they were playing for the first time. It felt as wide as the Stray Dog is long.

The early signs were good. Clapton pinged balls over the top, especially down the right for Marta Casanovas to scurry after. The visitors were hemmed in.

On five minutes, Casanovas drilled the ball across the six yard box. Emily Link could only prod against the outside of the post. 

The opener came a minute later, from the opposite flank. Maria Mendonca was the provider. Marta Boiro turned in a cross from close range with a twisting, improvised, tae kwon do-ish kick.

At this point, all signs were pointing to a comfortable afternoon for the Tons. But a few minutes later Edgware were level. They pounced on some casual play in the Clapton backline and sent their lone striker one on one with Polly Adams. The number 20 slotted home.

This goal against the run of play changed the run of play. Edgware got themselves on top and it was Clapton who found themselves hemmed in for much of the rest of the half. 

Claudio Gomes made three substitutions on the fortieth minute, which tells a story about how the game was going. 

The tactic almost had instant results. Mim Chadwick‘s superb corner from the right was met by Ciara Robinson. But the newly-introduced sub’s header rattled back off the bar. 

Under the weather

In the second half, Edgware’s number 18 in midfield really stood out with some quality touches. But she met her match in an on-form Chadwick. One tackle in particular prevented the Edgware player from getting a run on goal. And most of her eye-catching work was limited to less dangerous areas of the park. 

The non-stop drizzle meant the pitch was playing differently than it had an hour earlier. The very same balls over the top that had served Clapton so well in the early stages were not working any more. They were skidding over the bye line rather than holding up for our attackers. The wind was affecting the accuracy too.

It was one of those days when things just were not clicking. But the team kept on trying to carve out that crucial, knockout attack. 

With only 20 minutes remaining, Link showed an exceptional turn of pace to burn past her marker on the right wing. She cut back, but a stretching Mendonca could not guide into the net. 

Into the final 10, Clapton upped the urgency levels still further. Casanovas crossed from the right and Robinson was just unable to connect. Then Boiro floated in a free kick that Annie Lyons couldn’t quite head in. 

They all count

Finally, the Tons got their break of luck. Mendonca burst through onto a Link throughball. The keeper blocked the shot, which then bounced back off the Clapton player and somehow squirmed over the line, with Mendonca herself sent sprawling.

There should be an Anti-Puskas Award for the flukiest goal of each season. Beautiful in its own way, this one would have to be a contender!

And important. Not just in this match, but it was a potentially massive moment in the title race. Even Adams made it all the way up the pitch to celebrate.

Edgware had a bit of pressure at the very end, with rare possession in the Tons’ box to set the home nerves jangling. But the defenders did their job, then released Link on a counter attack. Near the halfway line, but with only one defender between her and the goal, this was a great opportunity to add a third. But the referee blew for full time.

The instinctive indignation of the home fans melted into relief as they realised what it meant. Slip up avoided. Take that all day long. 

It must have been really devastating for the away side, who in all fairness had deserved a point for their performance. But the unbeaten Tons march on. Another three points in the bag.

As they say, the ability to win ugly is the sign of a great side, right?

Post-match interview

Star player





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