Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Match Report: Cameron Smith
Shaun Okojie’s deft dispatch in the 46th minute left Corinthian Casuals firmly positioned in a play-off spot after a scrappy 1-0 win over Molesey on a miserable Tuesday evening at the Walton Road Stadium.
“We love you Casuals, we do” echoed around King George’s on Saturday afternoon as the valiant contingent consoled the dispirited Corinthian players following a 1-0 defeat to promotion-rivals Hastings United. It was a lacklustre game overall as a well-worked first-half strike condemned James Bracken’s side. Of all the dejected faces at full-time, goalkeeper and captain Danny Bracken looked the most disappointed, regardless of the courageous performance. It was typical of our passionate no.1, who would mark his 300th game in a Casuals shirt against Molesey. Six years of relentless protection of our net, Danny Bracken has established himself as a favourite amongst the supporters. Manager James Bracken had nothing but praise for his captain and brother, saying “He’s a fantastically level-headed lad who always wants to win. His attitude is bang on the money every week. I know I can trust him 100% with his performances”. Bracken’s competitiveness, confidence and consistency landed him the sacred no.1 jersey back in the 2011-12 season! The rest is history…
Game number three-hundred was away at the Walton Road Stadium, which was home to Molesey FC. As the rain lashed down and the spiteful wind blew, it was a sombre setting for a magnificent milestone. Molesey were hoping the weather wouldn’t affect their decent home record as two consecutive victories versus Guernsey and impressively, Hythe Town. Captained by the midfield unit Craig Lewington, Molesey’s manager Peter Lelliott has only just steered his side away from the relegation zone as the Moles sit in nineteenth place.
The two sides distributed across the pitch as the clock approached 7:45; the white shirts of the hosts and the pink and brown of Casuals were ready to lock horns. From the off, both sides seemed to struggle with the conditions as the weather deteriorated and the pitch became slippery. The varying techniques of the midfields cancelled each-other out during the first 45, with the clever, tactical play of Eskim and Bettache contrasting with the hasty, physical midfield pairing of Molesey. Although chances were difficult to find, Corinth could have easily opened the scoring after an infrequent amount of opportunities. Bettache, who was very much involved in the game, fired a delightful effort towards goal. His effort was rejected by Moles’ no.1 Liam Allen. Located on the wings, Clarke, Spencer, Hodges and Bettache often found a way to round the Molesey full-backs but fell short at the execution. The overall summary of the first-half came moments before the half-time whistle, when Clarke rifled a shot so high that it landed on the roof of a house overlooking the ground and resulting in a few tiles falling off!
Criticism of the referee and the linesmen was expressed by both sides following the dismissal of a Molesey penalty appeal and numerous offside and set-piece denials for Casuals. So far, it had been a stalemate at 0-0.
As the teams emerged for the anticipated second-half, most spectators were only just returning from the warmth of the bar. It was no surprise that many supporters were devastated to learn that they had missed the opening goal. Moments after the referee re-started the match, Casuals were in a promising position via Shaun Okojie’s slick movement on the edge of the area. Despite being swarmed by white shirts, sharp shooter Okojie found space to hit the ball from around 25 yards, which spectacularly sailed into the bottom left corner of Allen’s net. A lapse of concentration had dearly cost the crestfallen Molesey whilst the relieved and jubilant Casuals players bombarded the man of the moment. The visitors had stolen the lead- it was 1-0 Corinth.
The response that Molesey’s boss and their opponent expected was non-existent as the hosts failed to conjure any attacking opportunities throughout the latter period. The rest of the second-half was often spent in the Molesey half as Casuals attempted to seal the deal with a vital second goal. An agonising set piece saw the open Jack Strange collide with fellow centre-back Danny Dudley as a golden opportunity went begging- the header flew past the post. With fifteen minutes left, Josh Gallagher’s curling shot from outside the box was somehow parried by the alert Allen as onlookers groaned in disbelief. The following corner was met by Strange who made full connection with the ball and was only rebuked by Lewington on the goal-line. The electric atmosphere in the away end sparked new chants about Jamie Byatt, who made another substitute appearance following his recent return from injury. Byatt couldn’t provide a goal for Casuals as the visitors battled to defend Molesey’s route one set pieces. The hefty five minutes of stoppage time were completed; Casuals had conquered.
Smiles returned to the faces of the Casuals team as they applauded the terrific away support. It was a happy 300th for Bracken, who had a relatively quiet game. Corinthians return to Tolworth on Saturday for a fixture versus mid-table Sittingbourne. We hope to see you there!