CLAPTON reached the 50 point mark on Saturday with a 1 – 0 win at home to Southend Manor and look good to reach Mike Walther’s target of 60, with eight league games remaining. Nathan Cook’s latest belter was enough to see us get the win against Manor and very much leaves open the chance of a top six finish – steady progress, building on Chris Wood’s hauling of the club away from being the perennial bottom of the table points fodder we were three years ago.
Turning attentions to the cup, The Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy semi has us paired up with our new pals from E17, Wadham Lodge. Taking their name from a collection of 6-a-side pitches in Walthamstow, this’ll be only Wadham’s second ever visit to The Old Spotted Dog, in a creditable first season in senior football. Sitting four points ahead of Clapton in the table (having played two games more) a cup final for either club would be enough to turn a decent season into a memorable one.
Going out at the quarters in the ESL Challenge Cup to Takeley, Tuesday’s visit to Clapton will be Wadham’s second crack at a cup in a week. While the Tons have been on a decent run lately, winning three out of the last five matches, drawing one, the Wad Army have won just once in the same amount of games. The form going into this one appears to be firmly in Forest Gate, however, head to head, there’s only a goal between us, and three out of the five of those were penalties.
Controversial decisions seem yet to have evened themselves out for Wadham this season, who’re still firmly in credit against Clapton. ‘Philosophical’ in the local paper, the resulting Twitter bants involving an aggrieved Wadham camp escalated into peak cringe* following a Clapton penalty in our last encounter. There has been plenty said on social media since, although the importance of a place in the final should hopefully override any personal axe grinding between the dugouts.
For all the talk of Wadham’s good fortune this season, it’s Clapton who’ve had the easier ride to this stage of the competition, with Bowers & Pitsea withdrawing in the last round. Their march to Wembley in the FA Vase and general vulnerability of their pitch to drizzle meant they couldn’t squeeze in another game into their already overloaded schedule. The winner of our side of the draw will face one of Stansted, Hullbridge or the prolific, FC Romania in Burnham on Easter weekend.
The Tons should be confident going into this one having scored 13 in 5, with the blip against Bowers, in a ridiculous last minute venue rearrangement, the only blot in a near perfect run. A settled midfield and a devastatingly good Nathan Cook has given the whole team a reason to feel confident. The Clapton squad have just taken the handsome metre up another notch as well, having brought in our second professional model, Christopher Zinga. Wadham appear to be still training in the tired old blue ‘BEW’ sweatshirts Clapton were wearing in 2012.
Rubin’s Player To Watch: Nathan Cook is grabbing the headlines at the moment, but it’s the recent form of captain, Geoff Ocran that is quietly driving Clapton forward.
Rubin’s Score Prediction: 2 – 1. Wadham sat deep to stifle Clapton in the previous game at The Dog and are yet to score against us in open play. Tons to eventually wear them down, with at least one dodgy goal for either side.
RM Player To Watch: It’s the other man in midfield, Freddie Morris that has been capturing the imagination, and my heart recently. Looked assured against Newham and was badly missed at Bowers last week.
RM Score Prediction: This one might go to the wire, but I fully expect Charlie Georgiou to do a massive shocking dive. Tons on pens.