Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 19th September 2015
Report by Darren Pasley
Pics: Stuart Tree
It was third time lucky for Casuals as they left Footes Lane with 3 points for the first time after a wonderfully crafted second half display.
Even before Jason Dodd was dismissed for the home side on the stroke of half time, the visitors had already more than proved their worth and ultimately became one of the few sides ever to breach Chris Tardif's net on several occasions on home territory.
The Green Lions started positively and attacked from the first whistle with Mark McGrath advancing on the back post but completely missing his attempted volley.
Casuals first chance came in the 7th minute when Sekou Kaba powerfully met Josh Uzun's corner but headed well over.
The home defence nearly paid the price for failing to clear their lines when after good pressure from Casuals Kaba knocked the ball into the path of Juevan Spencer. With just Tardif to beat, the winger opened his body but fired weakly at the keeper when he should have really scored.
The opening stages saw the game very much end to end and in the 15th minute from a free kick out wide Ross Allen rose to glance his header off the crossbar.
Casuals continued to press forward and in the 20th minute Brandon Johnson and Josh Uzun worked the ball well out to Cherno Mendy who saw his shot deflected over by James Dodd. Left back Dodd had earlier been cautioned for pulling back Warren Morgan.
Casuals right back Morgan in a fine run of form was contributing at both ends and another lung busting run set up Mendy who again fired over. Morgan took matters into his own hands shortly afterwards electing to shoot after striding forward and his shot taking a deflection of Tom Strawbridge before being superbly kept out of his near post by Tardif.
On 34 minutes after clearing a Guernsey corner, the visitors broke and Kaba clipped the ball into the path of Emmanuel who checked in before firing narrowly over. In spite of the pressure and chances the home side once again hit the woodwork as Dodd smacked the post from a training ground corner routine. The ball rebounding off the outside of the upright.
Craig Young headed wide for the hosts before Casuals created and missed another glorious chance. Tardif, attempting to play out from the back, saw his pass cut out by Kaba and after driving into the box and cutting back he saw Josh Uzun slice wide with the goal at his mercy.
With the whistle approaching Casuals were handed a real boost when Dodd upended Mendy and received his marching orders for 2 bookable offences.
It seemed a surprise to many when the home side moved to a 3 at the back for the second half especially as all the warning signs were from the flanks in the first period. Even so, it looked to be an attacking move as Ross Allen saw an early half chance charged down for a corner by Morgan.
It took only 5 minutes for Casuals to make the advantage count as Emmanuel Akokhia opened the scoring with a low shot into Tardif’s bottom corner from the right hand edge of the area.
One soon became two in as many minutes as Johnson’s ball forward saw Akokhia in between the back 3 and his half volley squirmed under Tariff and the lead was doubled.(pictured below)
A ten minute hat-trick was nearly achieved as the Casuals leading scorer rose above Strawbridge to meet Dave Hodges left wing cross but his header looped just wide.
The home side had no answer to their opponents pressing and pace on the counter. Mendy was next to test Tardif after having the ball worked to him but his effort deflected into the arms of the grateful keeper.
Matt Reece replaced the two goal Akokhia and with his first touch, was denied by Tardif when through on goal in the 72nd minute... the keeper staying big to tip the effort over.
A 3rd goal to wrap up the match came in the 80th minute and again was a result of neat passing on the counter. Josh Uzun who had a fine afternoon sending in a low cross to Niall Wright who rolled out to Spencer. Despite being a much harder opportunity than his first half effort Juevan curled home magnificently past the home custodian.
The chances continued to come with Morgan flashing a shot wide whilst the introduction of Glyn Dyer for the Green Lions gave them an outlet for the first time in the half. Ross Allen nearly benefiting when muscling in on goal but sending a shot wide.
With 6 minutes remaining the hosts pulled a goal back when Matt Loaring arrived before the diving Bracken to bundle home after the ball was returned following a shot spell on pressure instigated by Dyer.
Reece was twice played through by fellow substitute Wright but having been first denied by his own touch and then the imposing Tardif he rifled home the hardest chance of the lot with a sizzling left footed drive into the top corner from 12 yards to make it 4-1 in injury time.
Spencer was next to be clean through but this time side footed wide whilst the hosts pulled another back with literally the last kick of the match after Ross Allen dispatched a spot kick having himself been fouled in the box.
Boss James Bracken reflected on how high the goal tally could’ve been.
“We know it could have been a lot, lot more, but to come here and win 4-2 – if you’d have told me before the match that’s what we’ll get, I’d have snapped your hand off and go home with a big smile on my face like we have.
“It could have been more, not with just half chances, but with absolute clear-cut chances… one-on-ones… great saves by their keeper. Realistically, if we’d have won by seven or eight today, you wouldn’t have really argued.
Bracken commented on whether they changed plan after the dismissal of Guernsey’s Dodd.
“Not really. We were creating chances against them before they went down to ten men and I felt we were quite comfortable dealing with them before the sending off. So we didn’t change our game plan. We weren’t going to push the panic button, go all-out attack on them and have the chance of being caught on the break. So we kept it the same with the exception of getting our wingers to get a little wider and stretch them and it worked.”