Clapton’s homecoming ends in Barkingside defeat

PUBLISHED: 13:30 13 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:30 13 November 2016

Fans make their way into the Old Spotted Dog ground (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Fans make their way into the Old Spotted Dog ground (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 8450 946026

Clapton 0 Barkingside 1

Clapton’s long-awaited return to the Old Spotted Dog ended in slender Essex Senior League defeat against mid-table Barkingside in front of a crowd of 483.

David Laird scored the only goal of the game for the visitors, but it was a fixture that Clapton probably should have won.

The Tons month away from home had proven very profitable and they were on a run of three wins, including victories over second-placed Takeley and last weekend’s triumph at Basildon United.

Such a run of results had meant that another win, coupled with a Stansted loss, would have seen Clapton climb into the top four and they began the game in good form against a Barkingside outfit who were without a win in five.

The hosts almost took the lead from an early set-piece when a flick fell to Nathan Cook, but his effort was cleared off the line.

But Tons had a nervous moment at a Barkingside set-piece, with captain Kristian Haighton forced to clear from his own goalmouth.

Barkingside’s Michael Ademiluyi thought he had given his side the lead, only to see the linesman’s flag had been raised, and the two near-misses appeared to spark Clapton into life.

On the half-hour mark, some good link-up play down the left gave Cook space to cross and the ball fell to Raphael Duyile at the back post, but his half volley was saved well by Jack Francis.

Moments later, the Barkingside keeper was called into action again when a set-piece was headed out to Haighton just outside the box and he hit a delicate ball over the top to Stefan Nielsen, who had time and space to strike the ball goalwards but he was denied by an acrobatic Francis save.

The visitors looked to counter attack and almost unlocked a Clapton defence which hadn’t conceded in three matches, as the tall figure of Luke With twice looked to be through on goal only to be denied by a sliding Dylan Ebengo.

Nielsen thought he had atoned for his earlier miss on the stroke of half time, only to be denied on the line by a Barkingside defender and then the post, as the clearance spun agonisingly close to the goal.

The start of the second half saw Barkingside come out the blocks well with Ademiluyi leaving defenders for dead and whipping in dangerous balls across the Clapton six-yard box.

And the winger got his just reward in the 47th minute as Laird arrived on hand to prod home one of his fine crosses and give the visitors the lead.

Clapton responded well to going a goal down and certainly had more of the ball and the better of the chances, as Barkingside soaked up the pressure.

Yet Tons couldn’t find that finishing touch and, as the game drew to a close, they had a few chances to get an equaliser from set-pieces.

Often all that was needed was a better connection and the game would have been saved and, with virtually the last kick of the game, the visitors were once again forced to desperately clear from their own six-yard box.

Much to the frustration of the players and the Clapton Ultras, whose Italian contingent were celebrating their two-year anniversary as fans of the team, the visitors held on to spoil the party ahead of their trip to Tower Hamlets on Monday night.

Up next for Clapton is a trip to Enfield next weekend, before they host Sporting Bengal on Tuesday, November 22 at the Old Spotted Dog, looking to avenge an earlier defeat against their East End rivals in the away fixture at Mile End Stadium.

Clapton: Robins, Blackwood, Cook, Domingo-Carrington, Duyile, Ebengo, Haighton, Lyndon, Nielsen, Thorbourne, Vigo. Subs: Ashman, Reed, Sardinha, Joseph, Steer.

Barkingside: Francis, Ambrose, Birch, Ademiluyi, Ajoodha, Campbell, Fontaine, Glancy, Laird (Ademilyu 90), With (Ruzgas 88), Wright. Unused subs: Lutaaya, Mitchell, Theobalds, Bonju.

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