In true Christmas spirit, on the first Saturday of December, the red, black and white checked Clapton CFC gifted a spectacle to all the freezing fans in attendance.
After a cagey start, the home side had an early chance when James Briggs lofted the ball in behind to a running Fred Taylor who didn’t manage to find the target. This partnership would become a running theme in the first half with Briggs dictating the middle of the park.
“I know what Briggs is about and [he] probably prefers switching it to the left,” Taylor explained, “His technique is unbelievable and 99/100 times I trust that ball is going to reach me.”
“It makes my job a lot easier when Noah [Adejokun] and Fred [Taylor] run in behind,” the central midfielder added, “As soon as I’ve gotten the ball, they’re already gone and that helps a lot.”
A close offside prevented Taylor from opening the scoring after a beautiful flick-pass from striker Taylan Gul but it was Noah Adejokun who broke the deadlock, greeting a Charlie Fagan cross with a composed finish to put Clapton 1-0 up. Aside from some minor infringements, the first half didn’t see much more action and the sides went into the break at 1-0.
Now under the floodlights, Park View seemed to wake up in the second half choosing to fire pot-shots at every opportunity and even creating a penalty appeal, which was denied. This newfound confidence did not last long though, and Clapton quickly reestablished dominance.
Following the substitution of Gul for Lewis Owiredu and switching Taylor from left-wing to right-wing, the home team exploded with three quick goals. The first sign of trouble came from a long Briggs free-kick, met by an Adejokun header which forced the Park View keeper to parry the ball into a follow-up effort which was dragged wide. The wingers then combined with Taylor sending it across goal for substitute Owiredu to fire home. 2-0. Mere minutes later, another Taylor assist saw Adejokun thump home his second goal of the night before Noah returned the favour, pulling it back to his assister soon after. 4-0, and three goals in six minutes.
“I enjoyed playing on the left today, so I wasn’t too happy about it [the switch to the right wing] at first, but it all worked when Lewis came on so that was nice,” Taylor told me, “Lewis, me and Noah up top was the trio from last season, so it was good to play that.”
Clapton made it 5-0 when Adejokun seemed to find the back of the net, completing his hat-trick, but the referee ruled it out. Clapton’s very own ghost goal, the linesmen claimed the ball went in through the side – Noah very much doubts this.
“The ref told me he thinks it came through the side-netting at first but we got it on camera footage. It clearly didn’t! It’s unlucky but the main thing is the three points today so, not really disheartened that much.”
Much like the weather, tensions were icy between the two teams with argy-bargy disputes throughout the game. However, while one team can walk away complaining they didn’t get any decisions, the other will walk away with 4 goals, a clean sheet and 3 points!
The result means the team are now 17 games unbeaten and in second place in the table with a trip to fellow high-flyers Cannons Wood on Friday night next.
Match report by Obi Lazarus