3 - 3
Clapton FC 3 – 3 Bowers & Pitsea
Clapton captain Geoff Ocran praised the resilience of his side after their thrilling draw with Bowers & Pitsea in the Essex Senior League last night.
The Tons conceded in stoppage time at the Old Spotted Dog to trail 3-2, but Miles Hunter slotted home the equaliser to spark wild celebrations.
Ocran said: “The side showed great resilience, going behind in the 90th minute and getting it back is an incredible achievement.
“Considering Bwers are going for the league, it’s pleasing we can match them. We have a good experienced side now.
“We are going from strength to strength in preparation for the big Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy final against Stansted on April 30.”
Having suffered a defeat to first placed FC Romania on the weekend, Clapton would have wanted to prove their worth against one of the other top sides in the division.
In Bowers they knew they would face a stern test. The away side sat in fourth place, three above Clapton, but had five games in hand over their title rivals and look destined to come first.
Yet as the final matches approach often sides can wobble in their pursuit of glory and the Clapton Ultras were intent on reminding the visitors who they needed to catch by unfurling a Romanian flag at kick off.
Neither side got going in the opening exchanges, with both unable to shake off the post-work cobwebs. Tony Cookey breathed life into the game after 36 minutes with a brilliant individual goal.
He went one-on-one with the Bowers right back and turned him inside out before coolly finishing at the near post. Even though the away team weren’t looking like the great side that many expected to see, just before half time they grabbed an equaliser.
Chid Onokwai was on hand to poke home after Lewis Manor’s header from a corner cannoned off the crossbar into his path and it remained level at the break.
Nathan Cooke’s audacious chest and first time volley drew gasps from the crowd as it almost crept in under the crossbar at the start of the second half.
But despite the good opening, it would be Bowers who came closest to taking the lead as a Billy Sendall long throw was flicked goalwards by Luke Wilson and the ball hit the inside of the post, but somehow was hooked clear.
Moments later, Clapton also saw an effort cleared from the goalmouth and the Bowers goalkeeper was forced to make some good saves as suddenly the home side looked on top.
They were rewarded for their dominance when Wilson pulled down Roddy Lemba in the box. Up stepped Cookey, and he converted the penalty to make it 2-1 to Clapton.
— The No Platform (@the_no) April 13, 2016
Disaster struck 10 minutes from time, though, as Freddie Morris took a heavy touch in the box and as he tried to make amends, he clipped the Bowers attacker.
It left the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. James Stevens duly levelled the scores, but only just as the ball squirmed under Pape Diagne.
And then in the 90th minute, Bowers Sendall had a chance to hurl another grenade into the Clapton box and this time it exploded. A flick on to the back post found Elliot Vile who headed home.
It sent the coaching staff and players into ecstasy. One of the Bowers squad ran over to revel in their apparent victory in front of the home fans to rub further salt into the wound.
All seemed at a loss with just seconds left on the clock, but as the Ultras let out their final rallying cry, despair turned to hope as penalty culprit Morris’ slight touch fed through substitute Hunter who calmly finished to spark wild celebrations.
It was a stunning conclusion to a wonderful match and next up for the Tons is an away trip to Waltham Forest this weekend.