Goals from Dwade James, Samrai Gebrai, Callum Ibe and Jaime Bennett ensured Stow didn’t fall short against Clapton and closed the gap to Saffron Walden to just 3 points. A good start from the home side awoke the beast from within and pushed Stow onto an emphatic victory.
Neither side had any real chances in the opening ten minutes with the ball being zipped around quickly by both sides. Clapton drew first blood in the 12th minute when they broke down the pitch – following Stow calling for a free-kick – and tapped it past James Bransgrove to take the lead. Things went from bad to worse a couple of minutes later when the home side doubled their lead after another charge down the pitch saw the ball fall to an attacker who cut in and slotted it low past Bransgrove to give Walthamstow a nightmare of a start.
Despite going 2-0 down, it was all Walthamstow for the remained of the half. Samrai Gebrai fired a ball across the face of goal but no one was close enough to tap it in before Jaime Bennett volleyed a shot over and Dwade James was denied by the keeper after a one-on-one. Walthamstow continued to push but couldn’t find the killer finish.
Samrai Gebrai had a couple of shots blocked whilst Dwade James dragged a shot wide and Lewis Francis managed to get the ball through a number of bodies but couldn’t direct it the right side of the post. With a couple of minutes left of the first half, Dwade James was played through but his shot was smothered by the Clapton keeper who stayed big.
Walthamstow finally pulled a goal back in added time when Joe Skeels was allowed to deliver a cross at a second attempt which met the head of Jamie Bennett who headed it home. Clapton were reduced to ten men when one of their players was sin-binned following the goal and the teams went into the break with the hosts leading 2-1.
The second half didn’t start well for the home sides as they were forced to put an outfield player in goal after their keeper went off injured and they were reduced to 9 men after a player was sent off for swinging an arm at Skeels (with the sin-binned player still off the field).
Callum Ibe thought he had equalised when he slotted home but it was ruled out for offside before Walthamstow were awarded a penalty after a defender handled the ball. With the sin-binned player returning and the handball offender being sent off for a second yellow, Clapton remained with 9 players of the pitch. Dwade James stepped up and converted the penalty to bring Walthamstow level.
A matter of 6 minutes later, Walthamstow were awarded another penalty. Dwade James was clipped but remained on his feet before another challenge came in and the referee pointed to the spot. Stow’s top scorer stepped up once again and converted to put Walthamstow in the lead for the first time in the match. A minute later, Clapton were down to 8-men when another player was sin-binned before Stow eventually ran away with the game.
Charlie Yexley delivered a great cross which met the head of Samrai Gebrai who helped it over the keeper for Walthamstow’s fourth before Callum Ibe got in on the scoring when he stroked the ball past the keeper after some good play between Francis and Yexley and Gebrai got his second of the night when he slotted the ball through the legs of the keeper in injury time after Lewis Francis pulled it back. The referee brought the game to an end as Stow completed the ultimate turnaround.