Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 23rd August 2014
Match report and photos by Stuart Tree
Corinthian-Casuals were minutes away from completing back-to-back league wins but a late Jack Sullivan strike meant Matt Howard’s men had to settle for a point.
Casuals were keen to put the memories of last season’s trip to Reachfields behind them; Leading 3-2, the Amateurs conceded two late goals to inexplicably throw away all three points. It was a harsh reminder that Hythe Town is a hard place to collect any points.
However, buoyed by the midweek win over Walton and Hersham, Casuals travelled to the Kent coast with high expectations. There was one enforced change from the side that defeated Walton; in came Carl Wilson-Denis for the unavailable Steve Goddard.
As expected, it was the home side that got off to the better start and the Cannons looked lively in possession. Hythe’s captain Craig Clarke could only head over the bar when presented a decent chance. The back four of Casuals resolutely held out the Hythe attack but on 22 minutes, a dangerous low cross found Craig Thompson in the six yard box but somehow, the Hythe striker couldn’t convert the chance.
The home side were to pay for their error; just one minute later, a Dave Hodges cross found the in-form Juevan Spencer at the far post who volleyed into the ground and past Hythe keeper Dan Eason to give the visitors a surprise 1-0 lead. It was classic smash-and-grab football.
The hosts continued their dominance of possession but lacking any end product, were unable to trouble Corinth. Laurence Harvey could only head over and further crosses into the Casual’s box were easily dealt with. The only moment that caused any concern was when Danny Bracken found himself outside his area only to half clear the ball. However, the resounding shouts of ‘shoot’ were not met with a finish that troubled the backpedalling keeper as the attempted lob sailed over.
Though Hythe had large spells of possession, it was the pace of Casuals’ counter-attacks that really troubled Hythe. Jordan Vidal penetrated the Hythe defence only for his cross to fall safely between the oncoming Jamie Byatt and Carl Wilson-Denis.
It was Wilson-Denis who had the best chance to make it two before half-time when he broke free of the defence and only a last ditch block from Hythe’s centre-back stopped the experienced striker from doubling Casuals’ lead.
After the break, the Casuals once again looked threatening down both wings. Juevan Spencer’s burst of speed continually troubled the Hythe full back. On the other wing, Dave Hodges was played in from a defence-splitting pass from Maz Bettache but his shot was saved by Eason. The resulting deflection fell into the path of Byatt but with defenders back on the line, his shot was blocked and Hythe escaped their biggest scare yet.
From this moment on, Hythe dusted themselves down and pulled themselves together. As the half progressed, the Cannons became increasingly more dangerous. Josh Burchell attempted to lob Bracken but could only shoot wide and Sam Conlon rounded the Casuals’ keeper with Maz Bettache clearing the resulting shot from the goal-line. Conlon looked ever more dangerous and on 80 minutes forced a decent full stretch save from the Casuals keeper.
However, on 85 minutes, the pressure finally paid off. Despite a fabulous save from Bracken, the resulting parry could only find Jack Sullivan who, to the delight of the home crowd, buried the rebound and level the scores.
Thoughts crossed Casuals supporter’s minds of what happened here last season, but the remaining minutes were uneventful and both teams played out for a draw.
Taking a point away from Reachfields is never easy but boss Matt Howard rued the fact that it could’ve, and should’ve been all three. Speaking after the game, Howard said,
“It feels like two points lost rather than a point gained and the lads have got the hump about it. They’re having a moan and they’re not happy. That’s good though as that’s not the team I inherited where it was a case of ‘oh well, we’ve lost again’. They’re really disappointed.”
“When I took over last season, we lost to Hythe 4-0 at home and come here three days later and lost 4-3, so this is progress.
“We’ve taken seven points from five games and I’m happy with that. Do that over the course of a season and that’s 63 points.
Photos can be seen in the gallery section as well as all the action from the day here.