Following the heated exchanges between Clapton and Wadham Lodge last season, Tuesday (23rd) night’s game at The Dog seemed relatively tame as both teams looked to steady themselves from troubled starts to respective campaigns. That was until Lodge were awarded their customary penalty, midway through the second half, and again on highly controversial terms.
Callum Hubble bundled in after an initial Diagne save prompting a minor pitch invasion from a boisterous Wadham bench. While Tons fans were obviously disappointed at losing the goal, the referee, seeking to share responsibility for the decision with his officials after lengthy consultation, confounded disbelieving Clapton players by failing to acknowledge the ball’s change of direction from what appeared to be a well taken challenge by Hussein Jaffa.
“These things even themselves out” responded Wadham’s assistant to nearby Clapton fans, although looking at the stats there’s a long way to go before the balance of decisions reaches equilibrium: Recorded on the FA website, the Walthamstow outfit converted 12 penalties last term, missing 2. To put that into context, all but three ESL clubs received less than half that number, just one was given more than 7, six totalled fewer than 3, while FC Romania didn’t record a spot kick all season.
Against Clapton the figures appear even more stark. Wadham’s record vs The Tons is played – 4, penalties – 4, points won as a direct consequence of penalty awards – 4. In all competitions Lodgelife have managed just one goal from open play against their Newham counterparts, a late consolation in the Gordon Brasted semi final. The reverse is that Clapton have accrued one penalty in these fixtures, in a league match that finished 2 – 0.
The imbalance and nature of many of these decisions must now give county referees and officials enough context to prepare for matches involving Wadham Lodge. The Wadham management emphatically gesturing imaginary yellow cards for what turned out to be a throw in suggested early on in Tuesday’s game that not all appeals were genuine; so far this season a third of goals scored by the ‘Black & White army’ have already come from the penalty spot.
Whether these decisions are just an amazing run of luck or something tactical, points accumulated on the back of mounting questionable calls seem to have given one team a clear advantage over its peers. Wadham take on a struggling Redbridge on Saturday, who will hope to get the rub of a few decisions and give the laws of probability something to think about. Clapton face Eton Manor and will no doubt look to see if things really do even themselves out.