Ten-man Clapton had to dig deep for a 1-0 win at home to Burnham Ramblers on Saturday courtesy of a first-half goal, some dogged defending and a debut penalty save.
But the first home league victory of the season was overshadowed by the news that playmaker Nathan Cook could be set for a lengthy lay-off after sustaining a broken collarbone.
Cook scored twice against Burnham in last season’s final-day 7-0 win against the Ramblers, and not unusually the midfielder had been Clapton’s greatest threat prior to his injury.
It’s ironic, then, that it was his replacement, striker Ikem Odeh, who struck the only goal of the game with virtually his first touch on 41 minutes.
And while Odeh seemed to pick up the baton in leading Clapton’s forward forays, the hosts never looked like repeating last season’s closing day demolition job.
And in the end, they were grateful to debutant goalkeeper Mark Kavanagh’s strong left hand as he repelled a Burnham penalty caught on video below:
From that point the red card shown to centreback Quincy Egbejale following the penalty incident gave the visitors a foothold they had barely merited up to that point.
And in the end the points were ground out thanks to Kavanagh’s heroics and a defence led by Dylan Ebengo on his first showing of the season following his dual registration with Cheshunt.
Yet as welcome as the points are, Cook’s injury took the shine of the day.
The severity of Cook’s injury was obvious as coach Ray Bartlett assisted a clearly uncomfortable Cook from the pitch.
Bartlett told Clapton FC News: “He got sandwiched between two guys, Nick [Loblack, another Clapton new boy] and one of their players, landed on his shoulder awkward and fractured it.
“I could tell it was broken when I ran on and looked. He said he didn’t have much feeling in his arm.
“I couldn’t take his top off so used it as a sling and pinned it up, till he got to hospital.”
Cook is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks and his injury seems likely to impact on his ability to do his job as a teacher for a while – a reminder of the risks players at this level of football face just for the joy of playing.
We wish Nathan a speedy recovery.
With another tiny attendance, and bigger games elsewhere particularly in the FA Cup, there wasn’t much written about the game elsewhere.
Blogger John Fist visited but chose to watch the game outside with the Clapton fans. While he thought the game was “appalling”, he added that “the footballing experience was as much fun as John Fist has had in a long time.” Read his report here.
The Newham Recorder also wrote a short report which you can read here,
Players and coaches
Assistant manager Andre Thomas spoke to George Sessions of the Newham Recorder, admitting: “It was not one of the prettiest games for the fans who were watching through the gates or anyone else inside the ground and not for the players on both sides either, but it was all about the result.”
Debutant Mark Kavanagh was understandably delighted with his clean sheet and penalty save.
Aundre Spencer was also happy with his assist and the battling win.
CFC News man of the match: Ikem Odeh.
Attendance: Head count at 35, officially declared at 67.