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Clapton FC 1 – 1 Sporting Bengal
Clapton FC and Sporting Bengal played out a draw at the Old Spotted Dog that ended with contrasting emotions for each side after Mendez Gomez missed an open goal for the hosts with almost the last kick of the match.
The rivals went into the derby having both played 20 games in their campaigns, with Clapton slightly ahead in the table by two points.
Tons had stopped a run of six straight defeats with a dominant display against bottom club Waltham Forest, while Sporting Bengal hadn’t lost in their last six outings and had already amassed more points than last year.
On a bright winter’s afternoon, neither side got going in albeit testing conditions as the effects of the weather made for invariable bounce.
Nathan Cook hit a beautifully weighted pass through to Nathan Makuna early on, but he failed to give Clapton the opener.
Instead, Tunde Adewumni’s tenacity and a bit of good fortune handed Sporting Bengal the lead after 17 minutes.
The number nine picked up the ball with his back to the defence and a piece of skill and balance saw him create some space, but he was fouled and in the process his right boot came off.
Undeterred, Adewumni saw an opportunity and, sensing the defender’s confusion, poked a through ball with his bootless foot to Abdisamad Mohamed who finished from a tight angle.
Moments later, Clapton were almost undone on the counter-attack as Adewumni played another great pass to put Telochan Singh through one on one, but forward man Cook hurtled in and made a goal saving tackle.
After saving a goal from one end, Cook bagged the equaliser at the other after a sustained period of Clapton FC pressure on the 32nd-minute mark saw right back Kristian Haighton hit a whipped ball to the back post, which Cook headed in gleefully on the overlap, catching a usually resolute Bengal by surprise.
Sporting Bengal began to shut up shop in the second half, deciding a point was enough and putting to bed any attacking flare they once had.
Clapton, to their credit, kept on plugging away and for that reason, would have felt they deserved a little bit more from the game.
Justice looked set to be served just moments before the full time whistle as finally, Clapton fount the right formula.
A nice lay-off put Cook one-on-one from a fairly tight angle and his ball across to Gomez left the keeper stranded and the three points at the substitute’s mercy.
But his effort cannoned off the crossbar much to the disbelief of everyone in attendance.
Clapton FC are now in ninth place, with Bengal right behind them in 10th.
And as his side celebrated their seventh unbeaten game in the league, Sporting Bengal manager Anwar Uddin said: “From basically starting from scratch to creating a team that is in the top half of the league after being bottom of the league last year is a remarkable achievement and we deserve all the luck we get!
“We battled hard and our main focus is to be hard to beat and our results are starting to show that.”
Clapton FC assistant manager Andre Thomas added: “With this result we have definitely stopped what was a very difficult time for the club. It is obviously disappointing at the end, but we can only take positives.”
Sporting Bengal visit leaders FC Romania on Wednesday, while Clapton are not now in action until January 2, when they entertain London Bari in another derby.
More on this match and the generous donation given to the Clapton Ultras’ foobank collection by our opponents on the day –