Clapton have been rocked as goalkeeper Richie Robins has made the ‘incredibly difficult’ decision to quit the club.
The club had fielded several stop-gap keepers – including Robert Dogaru, Conor Wheatley, Yakup Seyer, Alex Henderson and even outfield player Jerry Jarriette – since fans’ favourite Pape Diagne suffered a season-ending injury.
However, Richie quickly cemented himself as number one choice after joining from Ryman North side Aveley. He made 19 reassuringly solid appearances for the Tons, excelling at shot stopping, communication and decision making.
Three match-changing performances stand out – a late penalty save at Waltham Forest, a magnificent stop at Enfield when they were 1-0 up and could have killed it off and a calm. imperious display at Basildon.
Recently he played through the pain barrier with a foot injury but still saved the day in the seven-goal thriller at Redbridge.
His shock departure gives manager Jonny Fowell, who has repeatedly called him the best keeper in the league, a major problem to solve.
Richie announced the news on Twitter, writing: “I have now left @Real_ClaptonFC. I have spoken to the lads, and now would like to thank the @ClaptonUltras for their incredible support.
“I’ve had a great time playing for Clapton and got invaluable minutes in my locker, but to progress+develop I now need to be looking forward.
“The coaches, players and fans have been incredible and that has made this decision extremely difficult.
“But I’m confident the team will continue to be amazing, to challenge for the league and I hope, that they are able to resolve their off the field issues with the chairman
“If anyone has links with a club which has a good goalkeeper coach/ a good place for me to develop please get in touch 🙏🏽”
The club still has Dogaru, Henderson and Seyer registered but it’s unclear if they will be available for Wednesday night’s trip to FC Romania.