4 - 2
Waltham Forest 4 Clapton 2
by Waltham Forest
It was the East London derby of the Essex Senior League. Forest versus Clapton. With just five miles separating the two clubs, it was their first competitive meeting for 16 years – and it did not disappoint.
Forest took the lead early in the first half when Jose Agua pounced on a mistake from the opposition right back. The Clapton player’s touch was heavy as he tried to bring a high ball down out of the sky. Agua was quick to take advantage as he won possession deep inside the Clapton half. Once he had won the ball, nobody could catch him as the tall frame of the left-sided attacker raced into box before calmly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper. This was Clapton’s first taste of the sheer pace that Forest’s front three possesses.
“We have three or four players now who are all very very fast. So any teams that want to try and hurt us run the risk of getting hurt themselves”, said manager, Turgot Esendagli.
The home side should have doubled their lead when, again, the pace of Agua allowed him to get to the by-line before whipping a low and fizzing cross into the box which found Hassana Traore accurately. Traore, who played as the central striker, leant back as he connected with the ball, causing his shot to soar over the crossbar from close range.
Despite having the majority of chances, the home side were forced to defend at times. Centre back and captain, Jon Jon Sexton, set the standard for his team when he bravely threw himself in front a
Clapton shot, blocking what looked like a certain goal with his face. After the game, manager Esendagli acknowledged his skipper’s performance.
“[Jon Jon] is such a brilliant player, especially up in the air. His timing is always perfect, he jumps in on everything. His has a great partnership with James [Ogunleye] too. Any gap he does leave, James is always there covering him. They have a great partnership.”
Clapton again went close to levelling the scores when Raphael Duah Barimah headed his effort over from a corner.
The second half began in a similar way to the first, with Agua breaking clear of the defence and striding into the box. After struggling to get the ball out of his feet, he was eventually disposed by a defender who was backtracking desperately.
Forest began to gain to the upper hand as the chances kept coming for them to stretch their lead. The home side continued to exploit Clapton in wide areas and put dangerous balls into the box. The second goal that seemed inevitable soon came when Agua latched onto a splitting pass from Stephen Ellery. Determined to get his brace, he showed great strength to shrug off two defenders before curling his effort into the corner from the edge of the box.
As the minutes went on, Forest seemed to get better and better. Hassana Traore added his name to the score sheet after burying Solomon Ofori’s low cross into the back of the net. Shortly after the third goal, Clapton responded with two chances of their own in quick succession. The visitor’s hit the crossbar with a shot and then forced a fantastic save out of goalkeeper William Hunt with the follow up.
James Ogunleye scored Forest’s fourth goal with a header from a set piece. The centre back’s powerful effort was straight at the goalkeeper however he failed to deal with the shot and spilled the ball into his own net.
With ten minutes to go, Forest seemed to take their foot off the gas a little allowing Clapton to score twice and get themselves back into the game. The first coming after goalkeeper Hunt could only parry a long distance free kick into the path of Jake Stevens who then had an empty goal to aim at. Clapton’s second came after goal mouth scramble with Romeo Gbana tapping in.
Despite Forest’s four goals, they could have scored a lot more and they had a catalogue of chances during the game.
“Even at 4 – 0, we still could have scored a 5th and 6th goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t take those chances and suddenly it was 4 – 2 and Clapton were back in the game. So, we have to make sure we can be more clinical with our later chances. Either that, or, we have to be satisfied with 4 – 0 and ease the game down by keeping possession, pass the ball around to cool the game”, Esendagli said.
The ‘Stags’ are now unbeaten in six games, an achievement they have not been able to boast since 2009. They also had their best attendance (116) at Wadham Lodge since 2008 thanks to the travelling band of ‘Clapton Ultras’ who were brilliant and in full song all night.
At times, it was easy to forget that the game taking place was a non-league fixture. A combination of the fluid football and the continuous songs and cheers coming from the stands created an atmosphere rarely found in this league.