Ryman League Division One South
Wednesday 18th November 2015
Match report and photos: Stuart Tree (photos here)
Corinthian-Casuals suffered a second-half collapse at the hands of Ramsgate as they let a two-goal lead slip and ultimately left the Kent coast pointless on a gusty Wednesday night.
Juevan Spencer notched two in two minutes at the end of the first half for the Amateurs but an Ian Pullman brace coupled with a Joe Taylor penalty was enough to seal a stunning comeback from the Rams.
Casuals may have felt aggrieved that they didn’t earn at least a point from the fixture after Tom Loynes looked to have handled Juevan Spencer’s header on the line. However, referee Simon Finnigan waved away strong protestations and Casuals made the long journey home with nothing to show for the evening.
It was the second long distance trip for Casuals in the space of five days after their dramatic win over Ryman Premier title contenders Leiston in the FA Trophy on the Saturday. Although only one enforced change was made by Manager James Bracken to his starting line up – Ross Defoe in for the unavailable Dave Hodges, it would prove to be pivotal. Bracken was limited with options from the bench with Charlie Girdler – yet to make his league debut and Assistant Manager Joe Davies amongst the substitutes.
A win would propel Casuals up to fourth in the table and with three wins on the spin, confidence was high. However, Ramsgate were also flying high and within the playoff spots.
With the wind blowing a gale off the nearby coastline, it was predicted early on that the conditions would play a part in the match and all five goals were scored in the direction of the following wind.
Emmanuel Akokhia had the first chance for Casuals, curling a shot around his marker but only finding Luke Watkins in goal. The first clear cut effort fell to Juevan Spencer; after neat play down the wing, Cherno Mendy whipped in a cross that Ramsgate found hard to clear and the unmarked Spencer somehow could only hit the bar from five yards out. Terry Murray was next to go close after his rasping header just passed over the bar from another set piece.
Nick Treadwell came closest for the Rams in a subdued home side’s first half. The forward could only fire wide after Luke Wheatley headed across Danny Bracken’s goal.
Minutes later, Casuals took the lead. Spencer and Mendy’s pace caused the Ram’s back four much concern and the latter’s precise ball played in the former and had no hesitation in firing past Watkins in goal.
Before Ramsgate could recover, Spencer struck again. This time taking advantage of a Joe Kane back pass which fell short and the winger bagged his brace at the near post. 2-0 wasn’t a scoreline that flattered the visitors and in truth, the game should’ve been out of sight.
If Corinth hadn’t put the match to bed before half time, they really should have two minutes after the break. A beautifully weighted ball from Kevant Serbony found Mendy on the left who only had Watkins to beat. However, the striker showed too much of the ball and gave the keeper the chance to close him down and block the resulting shot. Casuals were to rue their spurned chances.
Almost immediately, Ian Pullman pulled a goal back in a very well worked free kick. With the wind proving tough to judge any clearances, the dead ball was knocked in from the halfway line and Kane Smith diverted his header across goal for an unmarked Pullman to slot home.
And then it was two; Loynes was found on the wing with only Ross Defoe to beat but the stand-in full back tripped the Ram’s striker and a penalty was given. Joe Taylor calmly placed the ball in the net from the resulting spot kick to give parity to the match.
Ramsgate adopted a ‘shoot on sight’ policy and sent a number of rasping wind-assisted shots in the direction of Danny Bracken. One smacked the bar whilst the keeper did well to handle others, even making an impressive triple save to keep Corinth in the match. But he’ll be upset with the one that got through. A foul on the edge of the box gave Ramsgate a great opportunity to fizz one at the keeper and most expected this. But the resultant free kick from Pullman was a pea-roller which trickled along the floor somehow beat Bracken who could only fumble it into his own net.
James Bracken threw on Ben Cotton and Stef Joseph in an attempt to get something out of the game and pushed forward, seeing Akokhia’s shot well blocked before Bracken was once again called into action to produce another fine save at the hands of Pullman.
Perhaps Casuals deserved a point and should have at least had the opportunity to level the scores. Deep into added time, Mendy once again found Spencer who beautifully headed home only to see Loynes clear off the line turning the ball away with the use of his arm. But although many at that end had seen the infringement, the Referee hadn’t and turned away protests from the Casuals players much to their frustration.
And that’s how it ended; a frustrating night for James Bracken’s team as they look to recover their early season league form which has since deserted them and have now only gathered six points from their last six league matches. Though it can be argued that their recent cup runs are putting a strain on the squad (Casuals are still in all knockout competitions bar the FA Cup), James Bracken will have to find a way to address the inconsistency, starting with East Grinstead on Saturday.
After the match, James Bracken commented on the performance.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves seeing as we lost the game. First half we played relatively well and we should’ve been three or four up. We had a couple of great chances, including hitting the bar from less than six yards and the free header. At four-nil, it’s game over. But at two-nil, it’s never safe.
“I tell them where they have to defend for set pieces and that they’ve got to stay resolute just like we did on Saturday at Leiston. But we haven’t hit those levels tonight.
“But I’m getting really fed up with the standard of refereeing. Not just one or two decisions but the whole game through. They hear a scream, hear a shout and they blow their whistle.
“The first half, he almost swallowed his whistle three times for totally nothing challenges. You think to yourself, why are you blowing four or five times, like it’s kicking off when it’s a nothing foul? He was totally influenced by a scream when there was literally no foul to give. No contact… no one near… but a load of shouting and he blows his whistle.
“It was 100% handball on the line at the end. The problem with us is that we need to appeal for what is ours because everybody else does. Yet it only seems to be myself and Joe next to me that is appealing. Juevan’s made the first chance and it’s hit the defender on the hand, and he’s gone for the rebound which is fair enough because you play to the whistle. But why haven’t we got three or four other lads already shouting out for handball? Why isn’t that call out there? It’s a penalty! They certainly would’ve shouted for it and they’d certainly been given the penalty and had one of ours sent off.
“It’s frustrating… not only with that but with our own play. In my opinion, if we’d have played anywhere near the level we did at Leiston, we’d have scored five.
We had opportunities to play players in, we had moments where players were making the right runs but we took too many touches and squandered chances. That’s what we didn’t do on Saturday. I said we were perfect at Leiston and even without the ball, we were great. Tonight, we didn’t defend well conceding three poor goals and we’ve not been particularly good with the ball. Yes – we’ve scored two, but on a night like tonight, it’s not enough.
“We’ll pick up and go again. But that was a tough one to swallow because we were two up and perhaps they thought that two was enough.
“When you play away from home on a windy old night like tonight, two goals isn’t clearly enough. That’s why we lost.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves a bit, take heed of what I’m telling them. If they do, we’ll kick on and if they don’t, they won’t play.”