Another visit to Cricklefield stadium, this time to see Barkingside take on Clapton who had made the short journey across East London.
Tube problems made it a slightly longer journey than i was planning but i still managed to just get into the ground a minute or so prior to kick off, with the admission a very reasonable £5 including a smart colour programme. It is just a shame even with clubs making every effort to engage with local supporters, crowds are still so low. Clubs at this level, in a city of this size deserve more support but for whatever reason in a city of nearly 10 million people, non league football still in many places struggles for an audience.
I was expecting a small travelling Clapton support tonight, given that most of their Ultras support has seemingly upped sticks to form their own Community team playing out of Wadham Lodge’s outer pitches, however on the evidence of tonight there is still a sizeable band of Clapton Ultras following the original Clapton FC and they sang and banged their drum in support of the team throughout the game tonight.
Barkingside began this evening’s game towards the foot of the table, without a league win and seemingly struggling for goals and with only the league to play for now after several cup exits in recent weeks. Clapton themselves, had started more successfully and sat in the top half of the table without having put together a consistent run of results yet.
The early stages of this game, did see Barkingside start with enterprise and create several half chances, without ever really finding the right final ball or a composed finish and you always feared for them that if Clapton got their noses in front, confidence would ebb away from the home side. The goal Clapton were looking for came on the half hour when a free kick on the right hand was crossed deep to the far post where Jay Morris was left totally unmarked to guide a header home from close range.
Barkingside needed a positive start to the second half, if they were to get back into the game, but unfortunately they started poorly and by the 49th minute, the game was beyond them thanks to two quick fire goals from Clapton’s Read, the first in the 47th minute saw him finish at the far post after Barkingside again failed to deal with a set piece and this was followed a couple of minutes later when he drilled home a low shot after again finding space beyond the full back.
After that you never really sensed there was any way back for a Barkingside team struggling for goals and low on confidence and their frustrations were encapsulated by the sending off of Mark Frostick in the 64th minute, for two quick yellow cards in succession.
Clapton could have added to their tally but in the end were comfortable 3-0 winners and push further up the table into 5th position, Barkingside continue to struggle and at the moment look like a side without a real goal threat which i am sure is something they will be looking to rectify.
All in all, never really competitive enough for the game to have a real edge but not that Clapton will be complaining as they gathered a comfortable three points. Barkingside will be hoping for something to spark soon to avoid getting caught up in a relegation battle.
Sad to see the home side with such a long history, struggling away from their natural home but hopefully things will turn soon for them. They are also celebrating their 120th anniversary this season http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/barkingsidefc/news/help-celebrate-our-120th-anniversary-2341873.html and won’t want this special season to continue in this manner for too long.