Thomas believes the tide will turn

PROUD Clapton boss Wilfred Thomas heaped praise on his side after a bizarre string of events early in the game played a large part in their defeat at Sawbridgeworth on Saturday.

PROUD Clapton boss Wilfred Thomas heaped praise on his side after a bizarre string of events early in the game played a large part in their defeat at Sawbridgeworth on Saturday.

The Tons, who have now lost their last five league games, were dealt a blow late last week when Championship side Queens Park Rangers requested permission for goalkeeper Joe Wright to play in an under-18 fixture for them on Saturday morning.

This meant the teenager was five minutes late for the Essex Senior League clash, with Thomas himself stepping in between the sticks, but Clapton were a goal down by the time he arrived.

Things became worse when the youngster was sent off on 15 minutes after a contentious call from the referee, who adjudged he had handled outside the area, and Sawbridgeworth's goal from the free kick threatened to end the contest as a spectacle.

Ten-man Clapton, with defender Robert Olayinka donning the gloves, pulled a goal back through Zina Barizasi on 55 minutes and were the more adventurous team for the remainder of the game.

While they were unable to force an equaliser, Thomas believes this could prove to be a turning point for his men.

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"For once I was extremely pleased and extremely proud of the performances," said the boss, who has previously played as goalkeeper in the Essex Business Houses League.

"I was watching the game like a coach when I was in goal and got caught out by a floating ball into the box.

"I'll have to take the blame for that one.

"Then, 10 minutes later, Joe came out to the edge of the box and the ball's hit him and he was sent off.

"You can see the mark where it hit him in the face, not his hands, but what can you do.

"They scored from that deflected free kick but after that I don't know how they lived with us.

"In terms of the performance and work-rate, you would never have thought we had 10 men."

"We have Barkingside on Saturday and I really believe it's our time now.

"After Saturday I saw a change in the players.

"I have said to them we can't go backwards now. They have to kick on from here.

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