Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 13th September 2014
Casuals suffered a bad day at the office as they succumbed 4-1 to Three Bridges in the Ryman League Division One South.
Corinth were riding on the crest of a wave after reaching top spot in the table following their 1-0 win at Carshalton Athletic. And although Three Bridges were thumped 8-1 in midweek at Guernsey, the side they faced was markedly different to the one that travelled to the Channel Island on Wednesday.
Matt Howard had one enforced change, bringing in Danny Green at Centre Back in place of Danny Dudley, suspended for his red card at Horsham. Other changes included Mason Welch-Turner, in for the absent Jordan Vidal and Juevan Spencer for Steve Goddard, who can only feature in midweek.
Normally regarded as slow starters, Casuals bucked the trend when in the first minute, Maz Bettache played in Juevan Spencer who cut inside and drilled a low shot past Kieron Thorp in the Bridge’s goal.
Spencer’s pace continued to cause problems on the wing and created a couple of more early chances for the Casuals. The winger almost returned the favour to Bettache when playing a neat cross only for the young Algerian to have his shot blocked.
The visitors begun to get a foothold in the match and a warning shot across Casuals’ bows from Louis Gray woke the home side’s defence. However, on 22 minutes, Williams Peauroux was adjudged to have been fouled in the box and a penalty was awarded. Bridges’ striker, Tony Garrod stepped up but his effort was comfortably gobbled up by Danny Bracken.
A few minutes later, tensions boiled as Maz Bettache, who was fouled stirred reactions from both sides in a fracas that saw two from Bridges booked along with Lee Hall and Carl Wilson-Denis.
Bridges continued to apply pressure and on 38 minutes, they struck the crossbar and the post in the space of 30 seconds; first from Ben Godfrey and a rasper of a shot from fullback Matt Whitehead. Breaking from the resulting rebound, Jamie Byatt beautifully dispatched a cross from Dave Hodges into the net only to be ruled offside. Hodges throughout the first half continued to break quickly and through his efforts, Casuals had a number of shots blocked, including those from Wilson-Denis, Byatt and Bettache.
Unlike Tuesday against Carshalton, Casuals were to rue the chances missed to make it 2-0. Wilson-Denis and Hicks both went close after the break but the scoreline remained 1-0 until an uncharacteristic mistake from Captain Joe Hicks let Tony Garrod have an uncontested shot on goal and although Bracken was quickly down to meet the shot, his fingertips were not enough to prevent the visitors from equalising.
Now on the up, Bridges continued to push forward and Casuals conceded a free kick on the edge of the box which was duly converted by Sam MacVicar on 65 minutes. In truth, Casuals had rode their luck in the first half but now were paying for it.
Looking for the equaliser, Casuals began to press forward more and Bettache could only shoot just wide after being played in by Wilson-Denis. Hodges’ crosses still caused problems and one particular cross that picked out Juevan Spencer saw the scorer’s shot neatly saved.
Casuals had strong claims of an equaliser. A free kick from Danny Green launched deep into the box saw Carl Wilson-Denis rise above the keeper and in the resulting melee, the ball was thought to have crossed the line, but the assistant didn’t give it despite strong protestations from the Casuals players and supporters. In the resulting break, Bridges almost extended their lead.
The game was wide open by this point and Three Bridges capitalised on this scoring two late stoppage time goals. First from Lee Carney and then a prod home from a couple of yards by Jamie Crellin to flatter the visitors if in scoreline only.
In truth, Bridges deserved their win despite Casuals taking the lead. Wanting to bounce back quickly from this result, Corinth were to quickly learn that their Tuesday night fixture away to Folkestone has been postponed due to the Kent side’s draw in the FA Cup. Matt Howard’s men will have to wait for the visit of Tooting and Mitcham to make amends.
After the match, Howard spoke of the loss, “It was a bit of a strange one today. We’re normally slow starters, yet we’re one-nil up after 42 seconds. But I thought we were poor. We were poor first half but to come in one-nil up, that was brilliant, and if we got a second, I think we would’ve killed the game off.
“It’s just a disappointing result. We’re on course for where we want to be, so I’ll just put that down to a bad day, so I’m not going to get carried away. It was just a bad day.
“The first goal that they’ve scored, you can’t do anything about really. It’s just a mistake that’s been punished. The second goal was cheap. The third, the lad has just come on and shouldn’t have got the ball where he did. We should’ve been on it more, but I’m not going to place any blame there.
“We’ve played a couple more games than teams around us but points in the bag are better than games in hand and with ten games gone, we’re well on course for where we want to be.”
Stuart Tree's pictures from the game can be seen here.