Clapton win marred by player collapse
- Credit: Archant
Essex Senior League: Sporting Bengal 1 Clapton 6
Clapton hit east London rivals Sporting for six in a scintillating performance, but their win was overshadowed by the collapse of right-back Bradley Joseph, who stopped breathing after complaining of chest pains and was rushed to hospital.
The second half was halted for around 40 minutes as paramedics treated Joseph on the field and after much deliberation the game eventually restarted, but there was a sombre atmosphere at Mile End Stadium.
Latest reports suggest Joseph is starting to recover, with Clapton tweeting: “Bradley is now awake and responsive. He’s still in some pain but looking much better. We’re unaware of the cause and awaiting test results.”
There was a jubilant feeling for all those involved at Clapton heading into the game, after booking a place in the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy final with a 2-1 win over Wadham Lodge in midweek.
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Sporting Bengal had lost to Hullbridge Sports in their previous outing, but Clapton knew they were no longer the whipping boys of previous seasons and a 1-1 draw in the earlier meeting between the sides meant a tough challenge was ahead.
Bengal boss Anwar Uddin was unable to attend the match, but the hosts began the brighter of the two sides and looked certain to open the scoring when a fluid counter-attack saw Prince William hit a pin-point cross to Tunde Adewunmi, but a slight touch from Pape Diagne did enough to put off the striker.
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Instead it was Clapton who took the lead on 15 minutes thanks to a fantastic half volley by debutant Sherwin Stanley, which went through the legs of the Bengal centre back into the corner of the net.
Nine minutes later, Roddy Lemba would double the Tons’ lead in spectacular style as he latched on to a Stanley flick-on and made a surging run and, with the keeper to beat from a tight angle, he skilfully rolled the ball on to his left foot and passed the ball into the net.
Clapton would have felt confident going into the changing rooms, but the Joseph incident put a whole new complexion on the contest.
The Ultras chanted Joseph’s name as their final song and once play resumed they did not sing at all in a mark of respect, illustrating the rapport the fans have with the players.
Without their so called 12th man and with the obvious psychological impact of the situation, Clapton looked despondent after the restart, and Tunde Adewunmi’s shot found the corner of the net in the 48th minute to halve the deficit.
Stanley and Lemba had other ideas, though, and on 65 minutes Lemba jumped with keeper and the ball fell to Stanley who stroked it into the unguarded net.
Six minutes later a Stanley long throw made the keeper flap again and Idu Bogdan was in the right place to tap home and make it 4-1.
Lemba added the fifth in the 81st minute when he was left one on one and his sublime game was topped off by a fantastic first-time cross for Stanley who side-footed in his third goal of the day to give him a dream start to life at Clapton.
Club captain Geoff Ocran said: “When we heard that he (Joseph) was breathing again we knew that we could continue and obviously if it was more serious it would have stopped.
“We are starting to get some momentum and more experience in the side, and today is a great sign leading into the final.”
Clapton are due to visit Barking next weekend, when Sporting Bengal host Southend Manor, and contest the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy final at Burnham’s Leslie Field Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday.
Sporting Bengal: x.
Clapton: Diagne, Bogdan, Moore, Briggs, Taylor-Reid, Ocran, Joseph, Lemba, Stanley, Oshin, Gomez. Subs: Cook, Cookey, Hunter, Barry, Burkett.