Three red cards, two goals and one linesman being restrained – Clapton’s defeat at unbeaten Takeley was certainly packed with incident.
There were debuts for Wilkinson Boateng – our fifth different goalkeeper already this season – and experienced midfielder Lee Flavin as well as a first league start for midfielder Andy Greenslade.
Greenslade and Boateng, along with fellow new recruit Hassan Nalbani, are all former Hackney Wick players seemingly brought to the club by their former manager Chris Davis, who has recently joined Clapton’s ever-expanding coaching set-up.
The most eye-catching team news, however, was that last season’s player of the year, Johnny Ashman, was making his first appearance of the season. Johnny is dual registered between Cheshunt and Clapton but this was the first time he wasn’t needed for the Step 4 side.
A promising first half saw the Tons matching Takeley and Ashman making things tick, slotting back in as if he’d never been away.
Then with virtually the last move of the half, Takeley slung a free-kick to the back post and huge striker Stuart Zanone was lurking unmarked to head home.
As the players trudged off on the whistle, manager Jonny Fowell collared the officials, insisting that the free-kick should never have been awarded in the first.
The goal itself was captured on video below:
In the second half, Fowell was forced to watch from the main stand rather than the dugout apparently after being shown a red card for dissent at some stage.
Takeley sat back and protected their lead in the second half, allowing Clapton to press. Early on a glorious header was pushed just over the bar as the visiting Tons sensed an equaliser.
However, within minutes Takeley swept up the other end on a counter-attack, and a good ball threaded through to Mitchell Das was finished from close range.
Game over, essentially, though it became increasingly tetchy, with Takeley getting five yellow cards of their own. And then it boiled up into the extraordinary moment when a linesman had to be dragged away from an altercation.
In the last minutes Clapton centre-half Dylan Ebengo was sent off after a second yellow card. Our understanding is that subbed-off Aundre Spencer threw a water bottle against the dugout in frustration. Here some people claim the water squirted out and went on to or near to the linesman. Others claim the bottle itself bounced in his direction.
Whichever version is correct, it led to the young lino dashing over and standing eyeball-to-eyeball to Spencer. Several Takeley players stepped in to pull him away.
Spencer was shown the red card, the linesman calmed down and the last few moments ticked down without incident.
Just a short report in the Newham Recorder for this one.
Clapton FC News spoke to assistant manager Andre Thomas and midfielder Johnny Ashman straight after the game
Manager Jonny Fowell gave his reaction to Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder later.
Meanwhile captain Lanre Vigo – stepping in for the injured Jerry Jairette – spoke of his pride.
CFC News man of the match: Johnny Ashman.