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.
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.
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.
CFC NEWS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jeffrey Cobblah