ILFORD 1 CLAPTON 4: TONS BOUNCE BACK WITH DERBY DAY THRASHING – MATCH REPORT AND WATCH ALL THE GOALS

 

Clapton taking on Ilford under the floodlights at the Cricklefield Stadium

Hats off to Jeffrey Cobblah. That’s one way to start your story.

It’s not unusual for players to arrive at Clapton without much more than a coach’s hunch and a chain of tweets to give you any idea what kind of player they might be. There’s no shame in this. Step 5 football is off the radar. That’s part of the charm.

Take Johnny Ashman. Last season was his first in senior football. Google his name 12 months ago and you get nothing, or thereabouts. Now he’s scoring for Isthmian North club Cheshunt and has left behind a lot of fans, some half-decent songs and a pretty big hole in the Clapton line-up.

Into that gap – the same No11 shirt, in fact – has stepped Jeffrey Cobblah. “Skillful & pacey winger,” said the club’s official Twitter.

Google his name, though, and there’s not much to go on. In fact, already it’s dominated by links to local reports about this very performance. Maybe he’s already writing his story himself.

An emphatic hat-trick against local rivals who are, reportedly, spending big to clinch the title is a statement and a half.

And while the 4-1 result perhaps slightly flatters Clapton, Cobblah’s performance deserves all the plaudits.

As Dre Thomas (still deputising for the holidaying Jonny Fowell) told the Newham Recorder, there was a hint of Arjen Robben in the way the left-footed winger cut in off the right wing.

He had already clipped the bar with one from outside the box before his next pop, via a slight deflection, gave the Tons the lead at the break.

Cobblah’s first goal:

By that point the ex-Clapton striker (and Downs FC star) Khadean Campbell had struck the post when it was still 0-0, and Ilford would have taken the first half on points easily were it not for Cobblah’s effort.

However Clapton’s new winger put the hosts on the canvass with his other two.

First he capitalised on an airkick by a Foxes centre-back to dink it past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

Cobblah’s second goal

And then he wrapped up a lovely passing move, slamming home following Rafa Duyile’s backheel.

Game over.

Cobblah’s third goal

The ground for the win was laid by a Clapton performance completely unrecognisable from Saturday. Once again Jerry Jairette was pivotal, restored to midfield and dictating the tempo for the visitors alongside the industrious Kristian Haighton.

Eman Olajide was, if anything, busier in goal than against shot-shy Basildon, but was equal to everything, making one outrageous save at 2-0, going full length to deny James Peagram, making his home debut after switching from ESL champions Barking.

Olajide was denied the clean sheet his heroics deserved when Peagram converted a late penalty, before Ryan Reed got the Tons’ fourth from another spotkick – arguably just desserts for carrying the team on Saturday.

James Peagram’s penalty

Ryan Reed’s penalty

But Cobblah’s hattrick rightly got the attention – and in front of a watching Johnny Ashman, as it happens.

In fact, Ashman revealed to fans he is still available to play for Clapton thanks to his dual registration with Cheshunt.

For now, his shirt looks like it’s being well taken care of.

Cobblah got a nasty-looking cut to the side of his face for his troubles, but he is now joint top scorer in the ESL.

Essex football expert Dan Wilson was there and caught all the goals on camera, which you can see above.

The Newham Recorder’s Jacob Ranson was also there, noting in his match report that “electric winger Jeffrey Cobblah proved too much for the Ilford defence”.

And after the game he also grabbed an interview with assistant manager Andre Thomas, who compared Cobblah to wingers Robben or Duff while also picking out keeper Emmanuel Olajide for praise.

Jacob also interviewed opposition manager Allan Fenn, who was disappointed at a ‘lack of fight’ from his players as he looks for 2 or 3 more signings. But he also praised Tons keeper Olajide too for saving a couple of worldies.

Finally he also uploaded this YouTube video of the players celebrating with the visiting fans on the open terrace at Cricklefield.

Something that Dan Wilson also filmed and tweeted.

Football blogger Richard Brock was also at the game and posted a gallery of 62 pictures.

Meanwhile over on the Unofficial ESL website, Pete Dudley wrote of Clapton’s “thumping win” in his round-up of midweek action.

Many of the players also had their say afterwards.

 

ATTENDANCE: Unknown

CFC NEWS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jeffrey Cobblah

 

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2017/18 ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE FIXTURES RELEASED

The Essex Senior League has finally released the fixtures for the forthcoming 2017/18 season and the first handful of games feature some new faces as well as familiar faces and old rivalries.

Clapton start the season this Saturday away to Basildon United at the Stuart Bingham Stadium – a repeat of our opening fixture in the 2015/16 season.

The Bees have appointed the former Basildon Town management team of Mark Harrison and Liam Wallace in the summer, following the departure of Aaron Bloxham.

Former assistant manager Lee Connor has been appointed as the club’s new chairman and will be hoping United can improve on their 9th place finish last season.

The following Wednesday we travel to Cricklefield Stadium to face our old rivals, Ilford.

It has been a summer of uncertainty for The Foxes after they were controversially voted out of the ESL at the AGM. However they successfully appealed to the FA and have now been reinstated.

Former Clapton captain and current Ilford boss Allan Fenn will be hoping for a title challenge this season after signing a string of impressive players including last season’s league top scorer James Peagram who netted 45 times in all competitions for champions Barking.

Following our trip to Clacton in the FA Cup, we return to league action on Saturday 12th August for our first home game, against Woodford Town 2017.

Woodford is the new name of the team formerly known as Haringey & Waltham, and going further back Greenhouse Sports, Greenhouse London, Mauritius Sports Association and Mauritius Sports & Pennant.

Town have a familiar look at least in the dugout, with former Wadham Lodge manager Tony Ievoli taking the hotseat, assisted by former Tons assistant manager Neil Day.

It is not known what links the setup has to the historic Woodford Town who, with Vince McBean as their chairman, shared the Old Spotted Dog with Clapton in 1999 before going bust in 2003.

Woodford, whose Snakes Lane ground burnt down but has not been redeveloped, will play at Broxbourne, where Eton Manor were based last season.

We then travel to Mile End Stadium on Friday 25th August to face Tower Hamlets. Last season 308 fans piled through the gates for the corresponding fixture, also on a Friday night, and no doubt Hamlets will be hoping for a similar or increased attendance this season.

AJ Ashinike has returned as manager and has recruited some impressive looking players, including former Barking and Ilford hotshot Wale Odedoyun and will be hoping his team can improve on their 20th place finish last season.

The rest of the fixtures are still being finalised and will be put on our fixtures page soon.

SHOCK AS ILFORD FC VOTED OUT OF ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE

The Essex Senior League is set to start with 20 clubs next season after promotion frontrunners Ilford were sensationally voted out.

We can reveal that 16 member clubs voted in a secret ballot at last night’s AGM to expel the Foxes, with just 6 backing them to stay in.

The Essex Senior League told community station East London Radio that the issue was “several missed overdue deadlines for League fees & fines”  – something that Ilford dispute.

They also claimed to have ‘bent over backwards to help Ilford’.

Ilford, Clapton’s historic rivals stretching back to the 19th century, vowed on Twitter last night they would fight against the decision.

However they tweeted they could not say more due to legal issues. They later added that it was ‘being dealt with right now.’

It’s unclear who will deal with their appeal and what the deadline will be.

Meanwhile the coaches and players are continuing to prepare for the new season.

Eton Manor had already decided to take a year out as ‘non-playing members’ of the league with a view to returning next season.

Meanwhile Clapton and Hackney Wick’s situation remains unresolved as both clubs are understood to have been given extra time to confirm where they will play next season.

Haringey & Waltham have also confusingly changed their name to Woodford Town 2017 – unconnected to the newly-reformed Woodford Town who are starting life again in the Spartan South Midlands League.

The current Ilford FC was founded in 1987 after its predecessor was one many clubs swallowed up into Dagenham & Redbridge.

However, the Ilford FC it carries on from were one of the giants of the non-league, founded in 1881 and winning the FA Amateur Cup twice and the Essex Senior Cup 13 times among many honours.

Clapton fans, and wider followers of non-league football, will sincerely hope the issue is resolved and Ilford can return.

The 20 teams set to play in the Essex Senior League are as follows…

Barkingside
Basildon United
Burnham Ramblers
Clapton
Enfield 1893
FC Romania
Great Wakering Rovers
Hackney Wick
Hullbridge Sports
Redbridge
Sawbridgeworth Town
Southend Manor
Stansted
Takeley
Tower Hamlets
Wadham Lodge
Waltham Forest
West Essex
Woodford Town 2017

CLAPTON APPLY FOR PROMOTION TO RYMAN LEAGUE

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There could be changes ahead at the Old Spotted Dog to get it into shape for Ryman football

Clapton have applied for promotion to the Ryman North, according to local football expert Dan Wilson.

Five Essex Senior League clubs are said to have put themselves forward for the one promotion spot with the Tons vying with Barking, FC Romania, Ilford and Waltham Forest.

Club chief executive Vince McBean had cast doubt on whether he’d apply for promotion, telling the Newham Recorder that fans were alienating other clubs who would veto Clapton’s promotion bid, although they have no power to do so.

For the Tons to be promoted, they would need to:

1) Pass the ground grading
2) Finish in the top 3
3) Finish higher than any of the other promotion-chasing clubs who pass the grading

All of the applicants including the Tons have until the end of March to satisfy the FA’s Grade E ground requirements.

However, this won’t pose a problem for Waltham Forest or Ilford – who have played Ryman football in the last few years – or FC Romania, who share Cheshunt’s ground.

League leaders Barking remain overwhelming favourites to make the leap to the Ryman League, assuming they pass the ground requirements.

It’s unlikely more than one ESL club will be promoted, but it is possible if other Step 5 leagues across the country fail to provide a club worthy of promotion.

The chances of success for Clapton seem very slim given Barking’s runaway success on the pitch and the work needed to be done at the Old Spotted Dog.

That includes infrastructure changes like a bigger main stand and hard standing terrace to replace the areas of grass banking.

Other issues to be addressed include parking for away team coaches, refreshments for fans and a tannoy system.

Previously we have reported on visiting teams ‘ complaints about the facilities, and the general cosmetic appearance of parts of the ground, which would also need to be addressed.

However, these issues don’t seem insurmountable so it will be interesting to see if the OSD passes the inspection or how far away from the standard it is.

PREVIEW – ILFORD VS CLAPTON

This Wednesday, Clapton travel up the Shenfield line to Seven Kings to take on historic local rivals, Ilford at the Cricklefield Stadium. This fixture, between two of East London’s oldest clubs, has been played on and off since the two sides were founder members of the Southern League back in 1894. The latest, modern-day, reunion has both facing up for mid-table battle in the Essex Senior League.

clapton-fc-home-game-25-april-1940-note-size-of-crowd

Ilford & Clapton at Lynn Road in 1940

The Tons should be confident going into this latest encounter, given their recent record with Ilford. The Foxes have yet to record a win against their Newham counterparts since relegation from the Ryman in 2013. The majority of goals have come in Forest Gate, however, with scores of 4 – 0, 4 – 3 & 3 – 3 recorded at The Spotted Dog, and just 3 goals in total scored in the corresponding games.

Looking much further back in time does, however, leave you in murky Sevco/Rangers territory. Ilford (1881) fell victim to a series of mergers that eventually led the club to becoming the ‘Redbridge’ bit in Dagenham & Redbridge. The current incarnation of Ilford FC was formed in 1987 and competed in the Southern and isthmian leagues before dropping back into the ESL after a ten year absence.

Following a fairly uninspired return to life in the Essex Senior, boss Allan Fenn has taken big steps in restoring Ilford since taking over in his second spell in charge;  placing them  5th last season. A former Tons captain, Fenn also played for Dagenham & Redbridge before starting his managerial career at Ilford in 2000, leading the blue & white hoops to 4th in the ESL by the end of his first campaign.

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Allan Fenn at Clapton in 2015

Easing into just his second month in charge, Jonny Fowell will be looking to emulate Fenn’s achievements, and a win on Wednesday could propel Clapton as high as 5th in the table. Recent form has Ilford stuttering and Clapton perhaps just turning a corner after 4 points from the last 6. However both teams will be keen to put a largely indifferent October behind them.

Players to Watch

Ilford, like Clapton, have goals spread around the team this campaign and have struggled to nail down a particular focal goalscorer. Leon Rolle, aka DJ Locksmith of Rudimental, has been a regular starter in midfield for Allan Fenn’s team, although fullback Paul Clayton seems to have most found his rhythm lately, mixing it up with three goals in the last month.

Clapton’s model left-back, Tayo Awoderu, had possibly the stand-out performance in last Monday’s 1 – 1 draw in Mile End. With a regular striker still proving elusive, Johnny Ashman’s directness from the wing could prove pivotal. Whoever ends up partnering Jaffa in the backline could also end up being a key position, with Dylan Ebengo impressing at Takeley on Saturday.

Prediction

0 – 1 Past form suggests this won’t be high scoring and Clapton aren’t particularly prolific at the moment. Ilford have done well against teams below them in the table, but have often struggled against those higher up. Despite a transitional squad, The Tons have had sporadic moments of playing good football, particularly on better pitches. Should have enough about them to edge it.

FA YOUTH CUP PREVIEW – THE CURIOUS (AND CANCELLED) CASE OF ILFORD U18s V CLAPTON U18s

UPDATE: Ilford FC announced via Twitter on Thursday, September 1st that Clapton have withdrawn from the competition.

Well, this is curious. Clapton controversially pulled the plug on every team except the first team.

The reserve, U18s and U15s were all axed at the end of last season. In previous seasons the club had also fielded u13s, U14s, U16s and U17s but they were chopped before.

So without any youth or reserve teams, it’s unclear who will play for Clapton U18s in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup, or who will be managing them. Hopefully last season’s very talented team have stayed together even if they are not playing in a league.

Despite the question marks, it’s a prestigious competition and drew a reasonable crowd to the Old Spotted Dog last season where our very talented youth team of the time ran Hornchurch close. Some of our play was truly a joy.

Ilford certainly seem organised and up for it, with their youth team manager tweeting: “Come and support us, get in early going to be a big crowd.”

A First Round Qualifying tie at FC Broxbourne Borough awaits the winner and the professional teams start to enter in the next round. It’s not unheard of for teams at our level to land a big name – in fact Waltham Forest reached the last 16 a decade ago, beating West Brom among others. Fingers crossed for a similar run then.

* Incidentally the axing of the youth teams led to a group of Clapton fans forming Downs FC, debuting in the Essex Corinthian League this season on Sundays, to give some more playing opportunities to local youth.