Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 14th March 2015
Match report: Darren Pasley
Pics: Stuart Tree
Casuals earned another point in their bid to climb the table and in doing so went some way to showing Tuesdays mauling at home to Hythe was nothing but a blip as they drew 1-1 at the KNK stadium home of Tooting & Mitcham United.
Making two changes to Tuesdays line up Ross Defoe returned, as did striker Carl-Wilson Denis.
The home side started well knocking the ball around with confidence but it was Casuals after 2 minutes who worked the games first opening as Juevan Spencer found Carl Wilson-Denis inside the area but his touch let him down when well positioned.
Despite keeping the ball well the home side weren’t really threatening a Casuals backline that had conceded 6 in the midweek against Hythe. Indeed it was the visitors who went mighty close in the 14th minute when after forcing their hosts back Wilson-Denis’s flick found Jamie Byatt but the striker thumped his effort against the post. In any case the assistants flag had been raised.
The home sides first effort came in the 19th minute when a long punt downfield from keeper Alex Kozakis found the Casuals backline out of position and Dan Summers stole in to head towards goal from the edge of the area. Thankfully for Casuals Bracken was able to divert the ball away despite being seemingly stranded.
Danny Dudley was inches from opening the scoring in the 22nd minute as he headed Byatt’s corner wide with Kozakis failing to collect the initial delivery
After 27 minutes the visitors took a deserved lead; a patient buildup on the edge of the area Byatt and Lee Hall exchanged passes. The former clipping in a weighted ball to Carl Wilson-Denis inside the area. The former Tooting striker controlled and turned expertly with his chest for before firing home past Kozakis to open the scoring. (Pictured Below)
7 minutes later the home side came close to levelling as Danny Dudley’s attempted clearance looped up in the air allowing Saidu Khan the opportunity to shoot at Bracken. Thankfully for Casuals his stinging drive was parried away by the stopper and away from danger.
In truth the first half was a very disappointing display from the hosts who by all reports were superb the previous week in their win at Whitstable. The home fans let their frustrations know at half time with the final ball and decision-making lacking all too frequently during the opening period.
Tooting emerged for the second half a changed side and Nathan Gordon was first to test the Casuals defence when after beating Jake Downs his low cross was stabbed away from danger.
The improved start was to pay dividends for the hosts however as they levelled 5 minutes into the second half.
After failing to clear a routine ball into the box the visiting rear guard were made to pay the price as Sol Pinnock picked up the clearance and weaved into the box. Despite Bracken blocking his effort with an outstretched leg Khan’s follow up rebounded into the path of Howard Newton who tucked his effort away inside Brackens near post.
With their tails now up the home side were looking to turn the match around completely and Billy Marshall fired an effort from distance, which Bracken tipped over the bar.
Dan Summer was the next to try his luck but with an hour gone he fired wildly off target following a well-worked short corner from the home side.
The home sides dominance prompted Matt Howard into making a couple of changes bringing on Max Austin and Reece Placid and the switch in approach seemed to have the desired effect as Casuals once again began looking a threat in the attacking third of the pitch.
It was Austin who nearly gave Casuals the lead back on 69th minute as following Byatt’s knock down his spectacular scissor kick was straight at Kozakis.
Both sides it seemed were happy to settle for a point with neither keeper tested in the final stages. The introduction of debutant Gerald Akosa for the hosts gave them brief hope and his direct play nearly saw a left footed effort go in. The drive just inches over Brackens upright.
Another substitute Max Noble saw a low cross in injury time diverted away by Bracken and match official Jason Richardson shortly blew an end to the proceedings.
Speaking after the match keeper Danny Bracken spoke of the contest against his former side
“After Tuesday, we’d have taken a point coming into the game today. We didn’t quite find that end product but we defended much better. After a 6-1 defeat, to only let in one goal is much better.
“As a goalkeeper, it’s always disappointing to concede a goal. You don’t ever want to let in any, especially at against an old club of mine like Tooting. I played here a few years ago and really enjoyed my time at the club. It’s a shame we let one in.
“The first half, the way we defended was great and we really restricted them attacking-wise, but it was a shame we couldn’t continue that in the second half. However, it’s still a decent point.
“My personal target for the rest of the season is to keep more clean sheets and as a team, to get more wins. We want to try and get a club record for points in this league. We’ve been pushing up gradually every year. We’ve got a great set of lads here and if we can stay together, push on to the end of the season, let’s wee where we end up.
“Realistically, a top ten position for a club like ours is a great achievement and it’s definitely there for the taking.”
Stuart Trees pictures can be viewed here