On a sunny day, on a good playing surface Clapton and Needham Market FC started to compete to advance to the next stage of the prestigious Emirates FA Cup. The first ten minutes was a 60/40 split to the opposition as both tried to find the weakness in the other.
There were chances at either end but neither took them. In the 15th minute, a well worked move down Clapton’s right, involving Lanre Vigo, Ikem Odeh, Nathan Cook and Jerry Jairette, finished with Clapton having a one on one with the Needham keeper, who he dummied and went around, only to see his shot blocked on the line.
Clapton now was having more of the game than the team that was two divisions ahead of them. Indeed, if you came into the ground during this spell, you would not have believe who was the Essex Senior League Team! However, shortly after, a lapse saw a ball down the middle and the Clapton defence having to chase back facing their own goal, but the sprint was won by Quincy. Almost immediately Ikem with his six feet three inch and fifteen stone frame, was continuing to cause the back line of Needham problems and it was from one of these he was able to cross the ball that came, off a Newmarket player’s leg straight to Jerry but the shot went high and wide.
The Clapton management’s time dedicated to this match, with the scouting trip, practice games and plans for Needham were paying off. But once again Needham using route one, was equally unlucky not to have gone ahead.
All over the pitch individual battles were being fought. Ryan had the measure of the Needham right back and to combat this, they doubled up on him. The midfield of Nathan, Jerry and Steven was holding their own and spraying the ball well. Tayo was kept busy, but once again had more than enough to handle the right winger.
The game was in the balance but Clapton was the happier of the two teams. Half time came and the Clapton players had a spring in their step as they knew if they had taken their chances they would have been well ahead, but as we all know in football if you don’t take your chance they usually come back to bite you on your …
The second half started almost as it finished but in the 65th minute a ball down the middle saw Needham taking this chance and went one nil ahead.
Clapton still pressed for the equaliser and it was from one of these moves that Needham was able to double their score. Clapton showed a lot of fighting spirit and continued chasing the game and the consistency of the Ryman Premier team showed as they did what they did in the first half but better.
Clapton’s player were showing signs of fatigue chasing the game and the management changed the penalty. In the 80th minute a harmless ball was allowed to bounce around the eighteen yard box before being headed out. From that clearance the number 10 of Needham looked up and pinpointed the ball into Clapton’s top left hand corner of the net for a 3-0 lead.
Clapton will be gutted for not taking their chances like Needham Market FC did – a good lesson for this young team and this match will put them in good stead for the ESL League, which is their main focus.
We wish Needham Market well for the next round.