Journalist Adam Slater of Newham Recorder fame was one of just 28 people (away fans, officials and stewards but ZERO home supporters) at the Old Spotted Dog on Tuesday night as the Clapton Ultras boycott hit hard. Here’s his match report for those who stayed away or protested outside the ground.
Clapton FC exited another cup competition this time the London Senior Cup at the hands of Ryman League south outfit, Greenwich Borough, in a 2-5 loss on Tuesday night at the Old Spotted Dog.
Once again the game was played in front of an empty scaffold as the Ultras continued their boycott of home games, in defiance at the hike in ticket prices and overall leadership of the club by chief executive Vince McBean.
Clapton were looking to avoid being knocked out of a third cup competition in just two weeks, following losses to Barking in the Gordon Brasted Memorial trophy and Hullbridge Sports in the League Challenge cup.
Their opponents, Greenwich Borough, are a club on the rise having been promoted out of the Southern Counties Premier league last year and currently lying third in the Ryman South.
Clapton began the game well against a Greenwich side that was littered with ex professionals and even an FA cup finalist, Peter Sweeney, who played for Millwall against Manchester United in the 2004 final.
The visitors soon settled into the game and came close to taking the lead early on from a corner, as Lanre Vigo was forced to clear a Michael Power header off the line.
Power wasn’t to be thwarted again on the 11th minute, as he was given space 25 yards out and promptly hit a screamer into the bottom corner to give Greenwich the lead.
The Tons got back into the contest on the 23rd minute in fortuitous circumstances. Ryan Reed’s initial shot across the keeper was saved with the ball falling to player manager and ex Leyton Orient forward Gary Alexander. His clearance was blocked by Domingo-Carrington and the ball rebounded in to make it all square.
Often the difference between players in the Ryman League and players in the ESL are the amount of mistakes, and Greenwich’s second goal was evidence of this.
A nervy first touch from Clapton centre-back Jamie Lyndon allowed Power to pick his pocket and charge into the box. Lyndon in his attempts to make amends dived in rashly and brought the attacker down, conceding a penalty. Power stepped up and scored to restore Greenwich’s lead on 31 minutes.
Just moments later it was three for the visitors as Billy Dunn fired home just inside the box, after a cross was only half cleared.
The second half couldn’t have started any worse for the Tons as midfielder Siao Blackwood was sent off on the 49th minute following an off the ball incident.
With their opponents down to ten men, Greenwich were in cruise control and Clapton were looking to avoid embarrassment.
On the hour mark Greenwich got a fourth as Dunn rounded Robins after his first effort bounced back to him and calmly struck home.
Mohammad Eisa shot on the 85th minute fount the back of the net to make it five for the visitors before Nathan Cooke got a consolation goal for Clapton.
The loss means Clapton are out of of all cup competitions, meaning they can concentrate fully on their efforts to get promoted in the Essex Senior League.
Speaking after the game, captain Lyndon said: “The first 20 minutes we matched them, and we had a decent work rate.
“The penalty killed us a bit and then once we were down to 10 we picked it up a bit and to get that late goal showed we didn’t give up.”
“The atmosphere at the club has changed (since the boycott) but realistically every other team in the league struggles for fans and certain teams manage to go out and win most weeks. If we want to progress we can’t let it affect us.”
Up next for Clapton (4th) is a home match against Takeley FC (3rd) in the Essex Senior League, with a Ton’s win seeing them swap positions.