Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 11th February 2017
Match report and pics: Stuart Tree (full set here)
Additional photos: Paul Downs (here)
Corinthian-Casuals Manager James Bracken was left furious after an ugly spitting incident marred a feisty 2-2 draw with relegation contenders Chatham Town in the Ryman League Division One South.
A stark contrast to the free-flowing, attacking football from both Casuals and East Grinstead on Tuesday night, Chatham travelled to King George’s in desperate search of a positive result as they sat eight points from safety. The Chats had only picked up one win in their last twenty league matches and had a proverbial mountain to climb taking on a side who are competing for playoffs, winning their last two, conceding none.
Casuals were without ever-present Josh Gallagher, who’d scored in the 4-1 reverse tie at the end of last year. Talisman Jamie Byatt was still nursing a hamstring strain. Mu Maan was given his first start since his return to King George’s Arena.
Chatham Manager Paul Piggott had spoken to the press just two days before, stating that he hoped new signing Chris Saunders can help Chatham develop a nasty streak. Those intentions were set out early when Saunders launched a harsh tackle on Mahrez Bettache (pic above) which left the midfielder nursing a bloody and swollen ankle. However, match official Andrew Williams felt that the Chats player only needed a talking to. Bettache was replaced by Jordan Clarke leaving the management to quickly alter plans.
Though Casuals started the brighter of the two sides, they found themselves one down after twenty minutes. A speculative ball over the top was misjudged by the Casuals defence and allowed Ricky Freeman to have a stab at goal. Though twenty yards out, keeper Danny Bracken will feel aggrieved that he could only parry the shot into his own net.
Corinth’s tempo began to rise and both Mu Maan and Coskun Ekim tested Alex Hyde in the Chatham goal – the stopper displaying some fine goalkeeping. Danny Dudley was close to replicating his midweek goal when Josh Uzun’s corner found the defender at the back post, but could only head over.
On 37 minutes, Casuals were level; the on-coming Hyde was deemed to upend Shaun Okojie and a penalty was awarded. Ever reliable Josh Uzun providing score line parity.
Corinth pushed on in the second half to find a winner and pressure built upon the resolute Chatham defence. Okojie went closest after a scramble in the box saw the striker’s shot pass agonisingly wide of the far post.
However, Uzun – a dead ball specialist once again showed why he’s trusted with the ball at his feet. A free kick was awarded near the corner flag and Uzun bent a wicked shot into the far corner, beating all who came near.
Celebrations didn’t last long though as Chatham, realising they have to open up to get something from the match ventured forward and won a corner. Casuals failed to clear and Freeman bagged his second of the game heading home at the far post.
Casuals luck almost went from bad to worse as successive slips in defence allowed Chatham to break free and only a last-ditch goal-line clearance from Juevan Spencer spared the blushes of all in chocolate and pink.
Then, things turned very ugly as Chatham full-back Abdul Lyoubi spat in the face of teenager Jack Strange in an off the ball incident. The defender was incensed as all 22 players came together. However, the despicable act was again unpunished by the officials. The offending player was quickly substituted knowing he’d dodged a bullet.
Okojie came closest to winning it for Casuals when his neat footwork allowed him to turn and shoot from 12 yards, but only found a thankful Hyde in goal. The two teams shared the points but tensions flared once again after the final whistle and Jack Strange was dismissed for swearing.
Casuals sit in seventh, one point outside the playoffs but with at least a game in hand on those above. Chatham claw a point towards safety, needing to make up at least eight points on Guernsey with twelve games to go.
“Disappointed with today. We should be beating teams like that. We have to be,” commented James Bracken after the match.
“Again, it’s another game where someone comes to us being ultra negative. They’ve had one attack, the ball over the top and one set piece and they’ve scored from them. It’s lapses in concentration from us in a game where we’ve totally dominated the ball against a side who are happy to try and survive.
“If they’d have got away with a 2-0 defeat here, they’ll probably go home quite happy. That’s the mentality they can have. Of course, it’s up to them to set themselves up that way. They got a point here which they needed but I won’t ever have that negative mentality.
“From us, it’s very frustrating. The referee hasn’t helped. He’s been weak throughout the game. The tackle from behind on Maz, where he’s had to limp off after ten minutes is at least a yellow card. Nothing is given and the boy goes on to do half a dozen bad challenges and doesn’t even get a caution. There’s a lad who’s deliberately stamped on someone’s hand as he’s run past them. Again… no punishment. He gets a booking at the last kick of the game but should’ve seen one in the first ten minutes.
“These decisions… if the referee clamps down on that early, takes charge and run the game as it should be, then the game is shaped differently. It becomes how a football match should be played rather than how they wanted to make it, which he allowed.
“Jack’s been spat at and it’s all over his face. Every player has seen it as well as the supporters. Their management and players have come over and apologised to me about it after the final whistle.
“So the officials know what’s going on. Their lad has spat in his face. He should’ve been sent off for a bad tackle alone but again, it’s weakness from the referee. He carries on without caution to then go on and spit in someone’s face. That’s unpunished again and truly sums it up when their manager immediately substitutes him knowing they’d got away with it.
“For me, the boy is scum. People who spit at others are scum. They shouldn't be anywhere near a football match.
“I also have no idea why Jack was shown a red card after the final whistle. Let’s get these facts right. Their number three hasn’t been sent off and sat in the dugout on the far side. He’s walked across the pitch, where after you spit in someone’s eye, you shouldn’t be anywhere near a football field, but he is. I didn’t see Jack go anywhere near him but the referee shows him a straight red card. It’s weak.”