Open Access Women and non-binary 11s team pre-season match report against East Finchley

The hallowed and somewhat hilly terrain of Pitch 28 on Hackney Marshes 🏔️ set the scene last Saturday for Clapton CFC’s Open Access XIs second and final pre-season friendly.

Faced with an uncharacteristically early Saturday morning start (10.30am 🥱), blazing heat ☀️ and a strong East Finchley opposition, Clapton showed true grit to overcome these challenges and emerge with a 4-1 victory.

In what truly was a “game of two halves”, Clapton were unable to capitalise on their excellent attacking play in the first half, with cruel fate (and the left post) defying the numerous chances created. At the opposite end, mounting East Finchley pressure resulted in the concession of a penalty when the ball connected with full back Alison Barry’s (not so) funny bone 🦴. Keeper Umi Mulla-Bala rose to the challenge, saving the penalty to keep Clapton in the game and headed into the break at 0-0.

Half time tactical changes from club legend Coach Ellie ⭐️ resulted in a second half goal rush from the side. At the time of writing, reports that Ellie made an emergency call to run her tactics past mentor Sarina Wiegman remain unconfirmed 📞. An inspired Clapton burst into action and excellent team play saw a quick succession of goals from Aga Betz, Zoe McNiece, Luca Troman and Emma Westhead.

Clapton’s dominant midfield and no-nonsense defending from the entire team (including a Bronze-esque Jenni Whitaker 💪) saw only one goal conceded under sustained pressure from East Finchley 🥅

Typifying the approach of this spirited team, Clapton pushed hard until the very end. In scenes Katie McCabe would have been proud of, left-back Sinéad Gunning ☘️ dribbled the length of the entire pitch in the dying moments, only to see her shot trail wide by a matter of inches.

An excellent team win. Clapton kick off their league campaign on 16th September against Alexandra Park WFC 💥