Ryman Dicision One South
Monday 26th December 2016
Match report: Cameron Smith. Photo: Paul Downs
The annual Boxing Day fixture was disappointedly uneventful with Corinthian-Casuals earning only a point in a goal-less draw with an organised Walton Casuals side during a clash where neither side were able to provide the crucial, knockout blow.
Following the anguish against AFC Wimbledon, Casuals had been eliminated from all extra-curricular cups available. Despite the lack of potential silverware, James Bracken would be pleased that Corinth could focus entirely on the all-important crusade in the league. Previously, a terrific 2-0 victory versus Greenwich Borough had advanced Corinth into third place. It was the 26th December: Boxing Day, and Walton Casuals were looking to ruin Corinth's recent run of form. Collecting points from the high-flying Tooting, Hythe Town, Hastings and Greenwich, manager Anthony Gale has pioneered his side to a respectable seventh place- loitering just outside the play-offs.
Unchanged from the last league clash, Casuals trusted in their reliable defence featuring the attacking Juevan Spencer at right-back, Dudley and Murray at centre-back and last year's Supporters player of the season Dave Hodges at left back. Bettache and the 'Two Joshes' are the glue of the starting XI in midfield whilst Clarke, Byatt and top-scorer Okojie up-front.
Walton's royal blue shirts queued alongside the chocolate and pink shirts of Casuals with referee Craig Green leading the teams out onto the pitch.
The first 45 minutes left spectators grateful that it had ended. Casuals' lack of creativity saw the visitors grab most of the possession and opportunities. Well-worked passages of play resulted in a few efforts on goal- Jake Nicholson firing the ball over despite time and space. Perhaps the chance of the half, a darting run of Walton no.10 Jack Sammoutis was concluded by the half-hearted challenge from Juevan Spencer, where the Casuals full-back put his arm out in attempt to stop the blue shirt. Falling to the floor in slight theatricality, Walton were denied a penalty by the referee- it was adjudged a free-kick on the edge. Jordan Cheadle curled the ball towards goal but the set-piece flew straight into the unflinching Gallagher, who cleared.
Corinth did produce chances to break the deadlock via the involved and committed Gallagher. The midfielder hammered the ball into the arms of Walton no.1 Denzel Gerrard before he received a yellow card for persistent fouling. Byatt's forceful shot after an Okojie lay-off was the only other notable opportunity in a dreary first half.
Dominating again, Walton's distribution of the ball saw Corinth's goalscoring chances reduced. Sammoutis' terrific run was passed onto Odunaike; the winger's dipping shot was cradled by Bracken. Bracken was called into action once more as Cheadle's perfect free-kick was scheduled to meet the top left corner. An outstanding save kept the score 0-0 thanks to Bracken's heroics.
The introduction of Warren Morgan, Ben Cheklit and Mu Maan certainly made a difference but it didn't bring the vital edge. An aversion of concentration in the final moments of the game nearly cost Casuals a point but Spencer's terrific clearance off the line prevented disappointment.
Now fourth in the league, a much-anticipated trip to Guernsey was on the horizon before Casuals faced promotion-rivals Tooting in the new year. We wish Walton Casuals the best of luck for the rest of the season and we are looking forward to seeing them again in April!