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This weekend saw the visit of Clapton FC to Fairlop for their first EJA league encounter with the Urchins U18s. Spirits were high after last weeks cup success and we looked forward to what looked like on paper an exciting game.
The game kicked off at 2pm as scheduled on a sunny, but windy afternoon. Both teams started brightly, with Clapton showing some good passing play especially across the back four. However, Hornchurch showed real tenacity in chasing down Clapton at every opportunity when they were without the ball and real class when passing through the team front to back. This was particularly noticeable when Hornchurch broke the deadlock after just 10 minutes, when Conor broke up the Clapton play in midfield & produced a slide-rule pass through the centre, breaking the offside trap, and putting Charlie in one-on-one with the keeper. Charlie duly slotted the ball home calmly for 1-0.
Hornchurch pressed on, and were rewarded 5 minutes later for their excellent approach play, when Billy swung a ball into the Clapton penalty box that went all the way through the crowd to the back stick, where Frank popped up to smash home for 2-0.
The remainder of the first half saw Hornchurch continue to dominate play through midfield & forward hard-work, coupled with excellent & accurate passing play. They even hit the Clapton bar at one stage. However, the half ended 2-0, a fine reward for a fine performance.
The second half started pretty much the same as the first half. However, as time wore on, Hornchurch appeared to sit back more & more, with the chasing down decreasing whilst the number of long, aimless forward balls just kept increasing. Clapton seized on this, and soon started pouring forward at will through the centre of the park.
On the 80 minute mark, what can only be described as 5 minutes of madness occurred. Clapton grabbed three easy goals to take the lead 3-2 with little or no Hornchurch resistance. With the game so close to the end, there was little the urchins could do in response before the final whistle.
Overall, this was a harsh lesson for Hornchurch. In this league, it is a requirement to put in the hard yards without the ball for the whole 90 minutes, just as much as it is a requirement to play good passing football with the ball. When either of these elements are removed, it is clear that the only result is punishment.
Overall, the Hornchurch first half performance was a fantastic display of passing football & dominant play, and we truly believe that the final result was not a fair reflection of the lads game today. However, this is football and expect the lads to learn from the experience and bounce back even more determined than ever.
There is no game next week as we start the Xmas break, therefore the fans will see the squad back in action in the new year with the first EJA game of 2014 at home against Barking FC on the 5th of January.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year... COME ON THE URCHINS !!!!