Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 20th December 2014
Report: Darren Pasley
Casuals worrying away form continued as they went down 4-1 at lowly East Grinstead Town on Saturday.
With Joe Hicks still sitting out his suspension Nial Wright partnered Danny Dudley in the centre of defence whilst there were recalls for Dave Hodges and Mahrez Bettache
Kicking off down the slope Casuals looked to take advantage of what from the first whistle appeared to be a nervy and error ridden home defence.
After Freddie Barker had the games first effort with a low shot for the home side Casuals opened the scoring with their first meaningful attack in the 11th minute.
Ross Defoe operating at left back showed good footwork and vision to release Hodges down the left hand side. His cut back found Juevan Spencer who after exchanging passes with Jake Gill delightfully played in Jamie Byatt who curled the ball inside the far post.
Almost immediately Byatt nearly doubled the lead, after being set free his low shot clipped the outside of the post before deflecting clear. In the grand scheme of things it turned out to be a pivotal moment as the hosts swept upfield and after debutant Stefan Joseph won a corner the resulting kick saw Casuals fail to clear, leaving Barker to stab home from close range.
At the other end keeper Steele was causing the home fans panic every time he came near the ball with a display of poor handling and woeful kicking.
Bettache tried his luck from distance in the 17th minute but the effort flew over the bar.
The home side continued to present chances to the visitors and in the 20th minute Byatt after chasing down Sinclair saw Steele’s clearance rebound off him and fall invitingly. However the striker sent the chance well wide of the target.
In the 29th minute skipper Marc Cumberbatch saw a header from a corner saved by Bracken. It was a warning of what was to follow.
Steele came to his sides rescue shortly afterwards by foiling the onrushing Byatt as Hodges pass split the back two open.
The keeper was to present Casuals with one further opportunity as the half grew to a close, this time flapping Hodges high cross but with Spencer seemingly on cue to finish off the winger somehow missed the ball to let the home side off.
It proved costly as almost immediately following a free kick out wide Cumberbatch rose highest to nod past Bracken from 8 yards.
The second period saw Dave Hodges create Casuals first opening as he arrived on the end of Wrights driven free kick but after centring the ball the home side scrambled clear.
The visitors continued to apply the pressure and on the hour Byatt was inches away from equalising as he nodded Hodges cross just wide.
As in the first half after going close the home side took full advantage. This time substitute Dan Stewarts shot seemed harmless enough from the edge of the area but looped perfectly over Bracken after deflecting off the outstretched leg of Nial Wright.
The home side were now in full control with ex Guildford City striker Joseph dominating the Casuals back line.
He had a hand in his sides 4th with 15 minutes remaining.
After powering his way too the byline his cross was headed clear but only as far as Romario Hart whose half volley deflected off Dudley and wrong-footed Bracken. It summed up the visitor’s afternoon where it seemed nothing had gone their way.
Matt Howard threw on Cisse for the final quarter of an hour and it sparked Casuals best period of the half. The substitute himself flashing a shot just wide before Byatt was denied twice in quick succession by Steele
The keeper for all his faults in the first half was having a fine second and kept out Gills 20 yard effort with an unorthodox leg block. Bettache was last to try his luck but the ball flew high into the night sky and shortly afterwards the completion of a frustrating 90 minutes.