Honours even in Newham derby
- Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo
Essex Senior League: Clapton 1 Newham 1
The local derby between Clapton and Newham ended with honours even on a dreary afternoon at the Old Spotted Dog.
Clapton continued their unbeaten run in the league, while Newham sent out a clear message to their relegation rivals that they aren’t a sinking ship. Tons would have expected victory over their East End rivals, with Newham having lost the last three league games.
Yet, Clapton have often found the quest for three points a step too far, drawing four out of the last five league games and would be aware of the form guide being thrown out when it comes to derby day.
In the opening exchanges it was clear that Clapton were the more confident of the two outfits, with the home side coming closest when an Emyr Rowlands header cannoned off the crossbar after 10 minutes.
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Despite their promising start Clapton fell behind on the 15-minute mark courtesy of some tenacious work from Newham striker Vlad Sighiartau and a costly mistake from Clapton keeper Alex Biddle.
A through ball to Sighiartau looked destined to be lapped up by the onrushing Biddle, but perhaps fearing a boot to the face or troubled by the wet conditions, the ball wasn’t gathered and Newham’s number nine chipped over his hands to make it 1-0.
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Elevated by their early breakthrough, the league strugglers who began to turn the screw.
A dominant display by the Newham midfield saw them consistently picking the pockets of their counterparts and giving the impressive forwards, Sighiartau and Samson Ogunwole some clear-cut opportunities to double their lead.
A Newham lead was a fair result at half time and Clapton needed to change something, and they duly did, after forward Warren Mfula moved to centre-back to nullify Newham’s quick front three.
This tactical switch proved a masterstroke from manager Michael Walter as Mfula assisted the equaliser with a great ball from defence that sent Nathan Cook through one on one, with him providing the finishing touch.
The Clapton Ultras roared into life, as did their team, with chances suddenly coming regularly for the hosts.
Shomari Barnwell and Rodi Lemba both squandered clear-cut openings as once again they couldn’t press their advantage for the win.
Newham’s character never wilted under the barrage of Clapton attacks and they almost nicked a second goal, but were just unable to poke home balls that were flashed into the box.
The away fans thought Ibrahim Khan had snuck a late winner for Newham on the 85th minute, but it was only the side netting as the two teams had to settle for a share of the points.
Newham’s Zak Hussain praised his player’s temperament to withstand the late Clapton onslaught and has bright hopes for the future.
Clapton manager Walter said: “I think the result was a fair one, they probably had the better of it in the first half, but we came back and maybe could have won it in the end, just as they could have as well.”
When quizzed on his outlook for the rest of the season, a reserved Walther added: “Top four isn’t a real target, there is a long way to go and we need to turn these draws into wins and then we might think about that.”
Newham face Burnham Ramblers at home on Wednesday and then travel to Enfield at the weekend, while Clapton visit Wadham Lodge on Wednesday and make the shoprt trip to Mile End Stadium on Friday to face Tower Hamlets.