Corinthian-Casuals 1-0 Sittingbourne
Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 29th September 2015
Match Report: Darren Pasley
Pics: Stuart Tree
A welcome clean sheet provided the basis of another important 3 points as substitute Shaun Okojie hit a late winner to see off visitors Sittingbourne.
The Kent side looking to maintain their healthy start to the season following Saturday's disappointing FA cup exit at home to Hoddesdon started well and knocked the ball around with ease in Casuals half. The aerial presence of Harry Smith also causing some concern in the opening stages.
Despite a slow start the home side sprung to life in the 14th minute when following Danny Bracken's huge punt downfield Emmanuel Akokhia saw a rasping volley expertly tipped over by Sittingbourne's number 1 Adam Molloy.
From the resulting corner Brandon Johnson turned the ball back into the area and Danny Dudley was inches away from scoring in successive games. His shot on the turn just wide of the right hand post.
Centre back Ollie Brown has the visitors first effort in the 20th minute with an opportunist volley which was well over but as in previous games Casuals started taking a grip on proceedings. Shortly afterwards after winning the ball on the edge of his own box Juevan Spencer embarked on a run which took him down to the opposite box and saw his dangerous cross dealt with well by the Brickies defence.
Sittingbourne perhaps should have opened the scoring in the 34th minute as from a corner Jono Richardson saw his goal-bound header deflected clear by his own striker Miles Cornwell just yards from goal. At the other end Spencer continued to cause problems and after skipping past Jack Steventon and travelling along the byline only the outstretched arm of Molloy prevented the number 11 from tapping into the net.
Casuals were now in full flow as they attempted to make the breakthrough. Josh Uzun curled just over from 20 yards before having another effort saved low down after Cherno Mendy was denied by Richardson's saving tackle. Sekou Kaba was the next to narrowly miss the bar with another curling effort but going into the break the scores were level.
The second period continued in a similar patten with Molloy tipping over once again this time from Mendy from the edge of the area.
The visitors eager to make an impression of their own in the final third saw Tom Brunt win the ball deep into Casuals territory but Bracken was on hand to dive onto the ball heading towards the line. At the other end Molloy continued to impress and this time his legs kept the scores level when blocking from Emmanuel Akokhia after the striker received the ball back from Johnson.
In the 63rd minute Mendy side-footed over following a well worked build up involving Johnson and Kaba and many of the 108 strong home crowd were starting to wonder if this was to be one of those nights.
Substitute Ollie Bankole was denied by Bracken as a deflected shot fell invitingly to him but the keeper rushed out to block with his shoulder. From the corner the ball was swung back into Billy French who volleyed just over. Sittingbourne making it clear they still had intentions of taking the points.
Almost immediately the home side broke up-field and Emmanuel played in Spencer who in behind Gonnella knocked past Molloy but with the defenders back saw his shot cleared off the line once again by the legs of the keeper.
In the 70th minute Kaba found himself space in the area to fire off another shot which this time drew the save of the night from Molloy this time diving away to his left. Danny Bracken made a brilliant save to keep out a Harry Smith header as once again Sittingbourne threatened before Casuals were denied what appeared to be a huge shout for a penalty. Johnson taking a quick free kick and substitute Shaun Okojie arriving before the keeper who appeared to tug back the striker whilst retrieving the ball.
They say games turn on pivotal moments and in the space of 90 seconds the game was settled. A free kick from the right was met by Billy French and his header beat Bracken but hit the inside of the post where a grateful Dudley slid clear.
Again Casuals broke up field and Kevant Serbony was brought down just outside the right hand side of the area.
Up-stepped Akokhia in the 83rd minute and his left footed effort appeared to be top-corner bound before Molloy once again intervened. Johnson first to the dropping ball steered back into the 6 yard box where Okojie gleefully tapped home and was rewarded with the subsequent bundle of all his team mates. (pictured below)
With 2 minutes remaining Harry Smith received his marching orders for a late tackle on Warren Morgan which resulted in a second yellow and then Brandon Johnson received his second caution too after electing to take his time over the subsequent free-kick.
There were no further dramas at each end and with those around them all winning with games in hand too Casuals maintained their second spot.
After the match manager James Bracken spoke of his match-winner and his thoughts on the game.
“I’m delighted for Shaun. He wasn’t even due to be in the squad tonight and I’ve pulled him out from training. I had a feeling about putting him in at the last minute and he’s turned up thinking he’s not even going to be involved. To be fair, Dan Pringle (Assistant Manager) has had a word with me about including him and I agreed.
“I know how good he is and how good he’ll become. It’s just a case of managing him along with our other good strikers and trying to give everyone game time.”
“We were the better side tonight though we’ve missed two or three sitters and their keeper has pulled out three absolutely world-class saves. Yeah – Danny (Bracken) made a couple of saves in the second half but we should’ve had the game killed off before he’s had to make one meaningful save. We’ve just got to make sure we take our chances."
Casuals play host to Three Bridges in the FA Trophy Preliminary Round on Saturday and Bracken emphasised how important the cup tie is to the club.
“It’s a massive game on Saturday (against Three Bridges in the FA Trophy). I know we take one game at a time but I realise it’s important. After the disappointment of the FA Cup, there’s a lot more emphasis on the Trophy and it’s a competition that I feel that we can something in and make progress. Obviously it’s important for the club on a financial side of things too.”