Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 6th September 2016
Report by Cameron Smith. Pic: Stuart Tree
The new-look Corinthian Casuals side comfortably ran out 5-2 winners as struggling Guernsey FC were defeated on a warm summer evening at King George’s.
“Some of the boys who have been waiting will get opportunities and others will have to realise that, whilst I'm a fair man, I'm also here to deliver performances to a good level on a consistent basis” were the words of James Bracken after the disappointing 3-2 loss in the FA Cup on Saturday. The Casuals boss stuck to his word as there were four new faces in the starting line-up. Also, former-Casuals man Mahrez Bettache returned to Tolworth after a season at Hendon FC and was on the substitutes bench.
The customary back-four were changed as centre-half Jack Strange started for the first time ahead of Danny Dudley whilst Warren Morgan sat out for midfielder Niall Wright to shift into right-back. Suspended, Jordan Clarke was replaced by Juevan Spencer on the wing and Ben Cheklit also started his first game, playing instead of Brandon Johnson.
A rough start to the season, Guernsey travelled to South London without a win, hovering just out of the relegation zone. Their last match was the 2-2 stalemate against Chatham Town, their third draw of the campaign in which former-player Matt Le Tissier attended.
Corinth started the game strongly, knocking the ball around the pristine King George’s ﬁeld with a desire to continue their unbeaten run in the league. Early half-chances slowly eased Casuals into the game and in the twenty-eighth minute, an unlikely source struck gold. A chaotic goalmouth scramble was eventually poked home by the foot of debutant Jack Strange, who opened the scoring.
Moments after, Josh Gallagher was given space to run forwards and release a fierce thunderbolt towards goal. Narrowly missing the net, the effort crashed onto the post as sounds of disbelief echoed around the ground. Exploiting the left side, Jamie Byatt used his speed to find space and cross for Shaun Okojie at the back post who smoothly chested the ball in the net from a yard out to double Corinth’s lead.
Hoping to put the game to bed, the hosts searched for a third. A mix up just inside the area saw Okojie find an inch of space before firing past Guernsey’s Josh Addison right on the 45th minute. Then, the referee blew for half-time with Corinth leading by three goals.
At the start of the second half Juevan Spencer latched onto a terrific long ball, controlling before sending a pin-point cross for the rushing Gallagher to nod into the gloves of the shot-stopper, who parried away, keeping out a fourth. The Green Lions had their first real chance of the game as Matt Loaring was denied by the strong hands of Bracken. Corinth’s domination was restored as Byatt was close to writing his name on the score-sheet but the header was saved by Addison. Then, the elusive fourth goal was captured as Josh Uzun curled a marvellous shot into the top corner as the keeper stood still, unable to compute what had flown past him.
The lead-up matched the finish as a heavenly cluster of one-touch play found Uzun who did the rest. The short injection of jubilance soon faded as Byatt slid in on a Guernsey player which resulted in a penalty for the visitors. Ross Allen netted as Guernsey restored a glimpse of pride. Minutes later, Allen scored again as the no.10 notched his second of the game, reacting first in the area. Substitute Brandon Johnson finished the game with a magnificent curling shot which nestled into the far top corner of the net after a Niall Wright set-up. The game ended in a remarkable 5-2 win.
Corinth were in a celebratory mood as they are a point behind league leaders Tooting, with a game in hand. The islanders dropped into the bottom three with another trip to London to face Carshalton Athletic on Saturday. James Bracken’s pink and brown army will play Hythe Town next in their fourth home game on the trot.
"We wanted to get back to winning ways immediately after Saturday’s loss in the FA Cup, and that was the perfect response." said Bracken after the match.
"I made the few changes that I vowed I would and the boys that come into the side performed fantastically. Overall, everyone did well out there. When I look back on the game, we played some lovely football, scored some sublime goals and I’m sure everyone that come and watch the game appreciated the football that we played. All in all, we have to be happy with that.
"When you’re four-nil up, it’s easy to have a couple of lapses in concentration. ‘Busy’ went to the floor in the box and he won the ball but probably just needed to stay on his feet to prevent the referee having to make a decision. The linesman was in a far better place to see it and he gave nothing but with the game at 4-0, referees give those. If that challenge is made at 0-0, he probably doesn’t give them and we see it out comfortably.
"But it’s not as though they’ve peppered our goal. Dan didn’t have to make any great saves so ultimately it just became a couple of consolation goals for them.
"I was pleased with Jack Strange making his first start – more for the whole performance and not just for the goal. He was superb, especially for an 18 year old starting his first game here. I said to both, Dan Pringle and Joe Davies that Jack would score tonight. I thought it’d be a header as he attacks the ball so well. However, it was a horrible scrambled goal but it was great to see that we had someone in there with the desire to force it over the line rather than wait for someone else to do it.
"It’s a very welcome return for Maz (Mahrez Bettache) to Casuals too. He was certainly one player that I didn’t want to leave when I took over here at the beginning of last year, but he’d already agreed to join Hendon in the league above. That’s fantastic for him and it’s helped gain good experience in a higher division.
"He’s come off the bench tonight and played half an hour and at the end, he’s had a massive smile on his face, saying that ‘he loved it out there’. You could just see the lad enjoyed playing good football. That’s our aim. If we can get everyone enjoying their playing, then we’ll get the best out of them all."