Another quiet night at the Old Spotted Dog as Clapton slip to defeat

Battling Clapton were edged out in an end-to-end game but in truth impressive visitors West Essex deserved the 4-3 win that puts them top of the league.

Missing Nathan Cook, out for six weeks after breaking his collarbone, and Ryan Reed, who has twisted a knee in training, the Tons looked lighter up top.

However, winger Jeffrey Cobblah, Clapton’s top scorer this season after an Ilford hat-trick, returned to the line-up after recovering from injury of his own.

With first-choice goalkeeper Emmanuel Olajide also still out, summer signing Ignas Budvytis made his debut in goal.

While Clapton have started the season sluggishly, West Essex have improved massively since a decent debut Essex Senior season last year, and also boast the league’s highest scorer in Michael Mignot.

It was that man Mignot who scored a brilliant hat-trick to take his tally to 10, but Clapton stayed in the game with two Steven Sardinha penalties and a Jeffrey Cobblah goal straight from the restart.

1-1 – First Sardinha penalty

2-3 to West Essex

📹 | @lefley_87 bends one in from range to make it 3-2!

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3-3 – Second Sardinha penalty

3-4 to West Essex

📹 | @midgemigs makes it 4-3!

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No one can fault the effort of the patched-up Tons side right now, but they’re not looking like repeating last season’s second place finish.

That’s understandable as several key players from last season’s runners-up side have moved on to paid football, while the uncertainty over the future of the historic Old Spotted Dog ground and the absence of fans at home games hasn’t helped.

For West Essex, it was a historic night and an ’emotional’ Dan Reading told CFC News: “When we first decided to apply for promotion back in 14/15, I started watching a lot of ESL games and was something of a regular at the OSD.

“I’ve always loved the ground and its extraordinary history. The extra dimension the Ultras have added in recent years has turned it into one of the best non-league days out around.

“Playing in front of a crowd of that size is such a buzz for players and fans alike. Like a cup final without a trophy if you will.

“Winning there last night was a special moment, but doing so when only being able to see the tops of the majority of the supporters heads made it feel perhaps a little hollow.

“Anyone that was present inside or outside the ground would surely agree that it was a magnificent advert for grassroots football and the ESL.”

Match reports

Here’s what the Newham Recorder and the Unofficial ESL website made of the game.

CFC News man of the match: Steven Sardinha.

Attendance: Declared at 47, head count and these pics show 22. Seems that the official figure is routinely doubled now.



The Clapton players receive the applause after hanging on for a 1-0 win against Burnham Ramblers

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.

Match reports

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.


Clapton fans are boycotting games and watching outside – this is the view when trying to view from outside the Spotted Dog gates

Needham Market were given a fright by the Tons, who edged it for the first hour before the visitors who play two leagues higher finally broke through.

As an FA Cup tie, it was well covered, as you can see below.

Match reports

The Newham Recorder’s Jacob Ranson was at the Old Spotted Dog to report on the match, noting that the “Tons dominated possession in the first-half.”

Visiting Needham Market fan Mark Valladares wrote a great blog about the game and his visit to the Old Spotted Dog, saying that “Clapton were enthusiastic, if a bit erratic… it looked for all the world as though they would take the lead.”

And the Needham Market FC website also carried a good match report by Mark Easlea. who also praised the home team for the first half showing but noted “Clapton… continue to have greater problems off the field than on it.”

The Non-League Paper also carried a short match report by David Ballheimer:


Getty Images sent a photographer, Alex Pantling, to take photos of the game. Here they are in batches of five – click left/right to scroll through:

A couple of visiting football fans also posted some photos and video clips.


Come on you planters #magicofthecup

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Players and coaches

We spoke to captain Jerry Jariette after the game on Facebook Live about the positive performance and disappointing result. Watch the video below.

Manager Jon Fowell, interviewed by Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder, said: “I thought we were the much better team for seventy minutes. We could have been two or three up before they even scored.”

And Ryan Reed was happy with the performance.

CFC News man of the match: Ryan Reed.

Attendance: Declared by Clapton at 143, head count at around half that.


A stirring second half comeback for the Tons grabbed a point

Clapton battled back from 2-0 down at half-time to grab a point thanks to a wonder long-range strike from Steven Sardinha and a neat finish from returning winger Aundre Spencer.

In front of a very sparse crowd as the fans continue to boycott – no more than 30 inside the Old Spotted Dog – the Sardinha goal was the main talking point with the distance estimated between 35 and 50 yards,

Here’s what we found on the game:

Match reports

In his match report, Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder judged the Sardinha worldie as 50 yards out.

The Waltham Forest FC website reprinted the report from Harry Gray of the Waltham Forest Guardian, also put the Sardinha goal at 50 yards.

The Clapton FC website published a rare match report, which noted a change in formation at half-time had led to a fightback and admitted it was “a fair result for both teams” and a “quiet night.”

Photos and videos

Players and coaches

CFC News man of the match: Steven Sardinha,

Attendance: Nothing declared yet, head count at about 25 to 30,



The teams in huddles just before kick-off 

The Clapton Ultras drummed up a huge crowd of 468 to Mile End stadium – the Ton’s biggest away game following for many decades.

The largely dreary game didn’t live up to that historic billing, however, with no goals and limited chances at either end.

Given the astonishing numbers of fans at the game, however, there was plenty of coverage online. Here it is:

Match reports

Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder wrote in his match report that: “The visitors had more of the ball… but Hamlets had better chances. Only a superb save from Emmanuel Olajide denied the home side a breakthrough.”

Scott Lanza wrote on the Essex Senior League official website that: “Both teams needed a win to kick-start their campaigns but ended up having to share a point.”

Photos and videos

The highlight of the match, from a Clapton perspective, was this superb low save by Emanuel Olajide late on.

Non-league groundhopper Richard Brock uploaded several clips during the game on his YouTube channel – including the one below of the teams entering the field.

Various others at the game posted pictures, such as these below:


#claptonfc #claptonultras

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#ClaptonUltras #ClaptonFC #KeepSmiling

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#saufen #büffelhopping #mileendstadium #claptonfc #claptonultras #towerhamletsfc

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The Clapton FC Facebook page also posted a few snaps.

Players and coaches

We spoke to assistant manager Andre Thomas and defender Quincy Egbajale on Facebook Live after the game. Watch it below:

Andre also spoke to Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder about his disappointment with the draw, but added: “We’ll take the positive of our fourth consecutive clean sheet.”

CFC News man of the match: Emanuel Olajide.

Attendance: 468.


Clapton fans viewing the game through the fence due to the boycott called by members of Real Clapton FC.

In the build-up to Saturday’s FA Cup preliminary round game at the Old Spotted Dog, manager Jonny Fowell was in the papers talking about his scouting mission to East Anglia to check out Saturday’s opponents, Norwich United, the week before.

One of the key differences between his team and Isthmian North opponents, he told the Newham Recorder, was on-field leadership.

By the end of the game, the manager will have been delighted with the return on his daytrip to Soham. Clapton won with an assurance that made you wonder if Fowell’s remarks were aimed precisely at getting a reaction from his side.

Till the weekend, Clapton’s standout performance this season had been the classy 4-1 win at Ilford. Like then, Saturday saw them go into the game as the outside bet. And like then, Clapton saw Jerry Jairette available again to run things in midfield.

The outcome of both games were uncannily similar, with the Tons absorbing long spells of first-half dominance from technically solid opponents before first stealing the lead and then shutting the game down.

And while captain’s shifts from Jairette were crucial in both matches, it is the energy and confidence that courses through the rest of the team in his presence that won both so stylishly.

This time Jerry was aided and abetted by Nathan Cook, making his first start of the season after some frustrating preseason niggles.

This and the speed and industry of fullbacks Lanre Vigo and Tayo Awoderu freed up Steven Sardinha and the livewire Ryan Reed to play their probing games.

But perhaps the biggest revelations were the huge performances by young centrebacks Zach Miller and man of the match, Quincy Egbejale.

Thanks to Fowell’s reconnaissance, Clapton knew to expect a physical game from Norwich focussing on their powerful attack pairing.

But Egbejale was equal to the lot with a commanding, competitive showing – probably his best in the red and white yet.

He might even have given the Tons the lead, hitting the side netting after a corner, but that honour went to Raphael Duyile, slamming home after a cheekily improvised free-kick routine on 42 minutes.

Clapton might have expected an onslaught from the visitors after the break. It never came. Rather the team continued to grow in stature.

And while it took a goalkeeping horrorshow to set up debutant Ikem Odeh for the clincher on 69 minutes, the second goal just confirmed the inevitable and notched another notable record in the club’s recent revival.

At the final whistle the players made straight for the gates to celebrate with supporters, who once again had amassed outside to provide vocal support from over the fences.

The joy was palpable, and the celebration a reminder of why the effort it worth it.

Fans, players and staff alike can agree that it was a reward made all the sweeter by the and sacrifices made.

Further reading

As you’d expect for an FA Cup tie, there was more interest in the game than usual. So there was a match report in the Non-League Paper…

The two respective local papers, Newham Recorder, and Eastern Daily Press, both reported on the game.

The Clapton FC website also carried a match report, while there was a gallery of photos on its Facebook page.

Posted by Clapton FC on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Meanwhile the game was mentioned in round-ups by the Unofficial ESL website, the Your Thurrock and Pitchero,

Finally, professional photographer Gavin Ellis published a great gallery of pictures.

Attendance: Declared at 122, counted at maximum 78.

CFC News man-of-the-match: Quincy Egbejale


The fixture guys were having a right laugh that day… #claptonultras #facupqualifying

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Clapton narrowly won the FA Cup phonetic derby at Clacton thanks to a first goal for the club by Anton Stephenson.

The former Aveley assistant manager and Bethnal Green United boss is concentrating on playing this season and scored on his first start for the Tons early in the second half.

The Tons players arrived at the Essex seaside early to enjoy the beano – including a hilariously mistimed punch  – and the local public also took a shine to them asking for pics.



The Tons face higher league opposition in the next round as Norwich United – who finished 9th in the Isthmian North last season – visit the Old Spotted Dog on August 19.

A victory would see Clapton reach the first qualifying round for the first time since 2005/6 and there is £1,925 prize money up for grabs.


The FC Clacton club website featured a good write-up, which said: “Despite putting in a performance which deserved greater rewards, the first team bowed out of the FA Cup at the Bowl on Saturday afternoon, a single, first-half goal the difference between the two sides as Clapton progressed to a Preliminary Round tie with Norwich United in a fortnight’s time.

“So not quite the result which we were looking for, but we’d nonetheless like to thank everybody who attended the match.

“We were delighted to meet a number of new fans and first time visitors to the Bowl before, during and after the game, and we hope that you all enjoyed your time with us and we look forward to hopefully seeing you again in the future.

“We’d also like to thank the Clapton Ultras for their support of their club on the afternoon and for adding to the occasion. We wish you and your club the very best both in the next round and for the rest of the season.”

A win away, a win away….#highfive #claptonultras #claptonfc #13months #yuriontour #wemberley

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The Newham Recorder featured a short report on the game, noting: “Anton Stephenson’s goal ensured a happy day beside the seaside for Clapton as they booked a place in the preliminary round of the FA Cup.”

It added: “Emmanuel Olajide made a brave save at the feet of the FC Clacton striker when clean through on goal… and the visitors had Olajide to thank for two more impressive saves in the second half.”

The Clacton & Frinton Gazette also mentioned the game in their weekend round-up.

The day’s captain, Kristian Haighton, and other players had their say afterwards.