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Tons turn it on to draw with the Manor
It has been a tough couple of weeks for referees in English football. Tonight at the Old Spotted Dog Ground it was no different as there were some contentious decisions from Joe Figg in this Essex Senior League match between Clapton and Southend Manor which will be talked about for days to come.
Figg should have sent off the Southend striker Salmon after he stamped on a Clapton defender, sparking handbags involving the Clapton captain Hassan Jaffa, and veteran keeper Paul Daley. After some time discussing the incident with his linesman, Figg opted to book Daley and Salmon, after the goalie had attempted to headbutt the Manor man.
It was a tough match for both teams on a leafy and bouncy pitch, with the ground also immersed in smoke as fireworks went off all around the surrounding area as the locals celebrated Diwali, the festival of light. There were the obvious comparisons with the San Siro during the Milan derby as the players and ball disappeared during some parts of the game in the smog.
Clapton had the best part of a quiet first half, with Chris Thomas and Abs Jarriette coming close for the Tons, and Patterson shooting wide for Southend. The half’s main incident was the pushing and shoving between Salmon and the Clapton team.
Southend came out for the second half as a force to be reckoned with, dominating possession and putting so much pressure on the Tons creaking defence that it was bound to break at some point. Brandon Martin could, and possibly should have been sent off for Clapton with a dangerous high foot that sparked more handbags but the ref only opted to dish out a yellow card. The deadlock was broken on 70 minutes; midfielder Lane scored a goal out of almost nothing with a 30 yard volley that caught Daley off his line and was smothered by the net with open arms to put Southend one up. The away side nearly scored two minutes later as a free-kick missed everyone in the box, and only a smart intervention by the keeper stopped it from sneaking into the net.
This sparked a revival by the home side as they battered the Manor defence, encouraged by a lively home crowd – mostly made up of the Clapton youth teams, singing impromptu songs throughout, anything’s better than Sloop John B. Towards the end of the second half, players were having to contend with more than just the opposition as fireworks were dropping all over the pitch from neighbouring gardens. It took a lot of concentration from the players to carry on in difficult, noisy conditions. As the clock was ticking well into injury time, it was looking as if Southend were heading for their first away win of the season, before a goalmouth scramble from a corner culminated in Oscar Mullings to score his second goal in three matches. The locals in the main stand went wild as they felt Clapton deserved at least a point.
Tons manager Chris Woods felt that the Manor boys had used some dirty tactics after the match; “The way he’s (Southend manager Russ Faulkner) set them out for the game: throwing themselves dangerously into tackles and going to ground and rolling around if we touched them, it’s just not right and its ruined the game.”
Clapton face Sawbridgeworth Town away in the next match, and if they show the same fight that they did tonight, they can surely come out on top and secure their second win of the season.