Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 10th January 2015
Final score: 3-0
Report by Darren Pasley
Casuals got their 2015 league campaign off to rocky start as they went down by three goals at a wet and windy Footes Lane on Saturday.
Postponements had made this game Casuals first since the 4-0 drubbing of Horsham and following the 2-0 win over Bromley in mid-week Carl Wilson-Denis and Lee Hall returned.
The home side made their attacking intents known from the off and Danny Bracken has forced down into an early save following a long throw.
Matt Loaring who was to prove a real thorn in Casuals backline all afternoon made early inroads into the area after turning Danny Dudley saw his cross to the back post scrambled clear by Lee Hall.
Danny Dudley came to Casuals rescue in the 7th minute when a long punt forward saw Marc McGrath take advantage of the wet conditions. With the ball not reaching a stranded Bracken on the edge of the area the strikers goalbound effort was blocked on the line by the Casuals centre back. Dave Rihoy on the follow up was also thwarted by the flying Dudley who made another magnificent block.
Loaring had the next effort moments later but his shot from outside the area was smothered by Bracken
Even at this early stage the game had a lovely ebb and flow to it and Casuals made their first foray into opposition half. Dave Hodges and Jamie Byatt combining well with the former volleying across the box with Carl Wilson-Denis just unable to connect.
This was to spark a period for Casuals where they dictated the tempo and Tardiff had to be alert as he came sliding out to deny the approaching Byatt following Hall’s defence splitting pass.
On 18 minutes the games best chance arrived and in the grand scheme of things proved a pivotal moment. Jamie Byatt down the left beat Liam Mahon and his low cross was met by the sliding Wilson-Denis. Despite being central and 6 yards from goal Chris Tardiff made a magnificent block with his legs and after Hodges headed over the returning cross the home side had averted the danger
Loaring continued to be a livewire around the box and he chipped in McGrath who shot weakly at Bracken when well placed.
Casuals had a shout for a penalty on 34 minutes as Wilson-Denis appeared to be shoved whilst attempting to connect to Byatt’s corner. Referee David Spain emphatically waved the appeals away
The remaining 5 minutes of the half saw the home side apply serious pressure, which it appeared Casuals had withstood.
On 41 minutes McGrath was denied by the covering Hall after being played in by Jamie Dodd.
From the resulting corner Bracken fumbled the initial cross but reacted superbly to block De La Mare’s fierce shot which came through a crowd of players.
Casuals broke downfield and Hodges was played in but saw his volley blocked by the imposing Tardiff. From the follow up Mahon blocked superbly to deny Byatt in what was becoming a thrilling end to the half.
Just as Casuals thought they had earned a half time break on level terms the home side struck.
After not dealing with a corner Matt Loaring reacted first to Dodd’s knock down and guided the ball past Bracken for the games opening goal.
After fishing the half strongly the Green Lions attempted to resume their stance for the second half. On 54 minutes Loaring again crafted another opportunity this time for Dave Rihoy who found Bracken equal to his low effort from just inside the area.
Loaring and Rihoy continued to torment the visitors and the roles were reversed when Rihoy this time found his team mate but after Bracken blocked the initial effort Danny Dudley was on hand to clear off the line from the rebound.
Casual’s first effort of the half nearly produced the equaliser but after Hodges had been played in by Byatt his right-footed swinger was headed off the line by Dodd with Tardiff beaten.
Dominic Heaume came close to doubling the lead as a cross wasn’t headed clear but from 12 yards out he blazed well over. It mattered little however as a minute later Rihoy sprung the offside trap and rounded Bracken to tap in the home sides second with 63 minutes gone.
The visitors response was immediate and substitute Juevan Spencer’s right wing cross saw Dave Hodges have a powerful header deflected away by the legs of his marker Tom Strawbridge.
With Casuals pushing forward more gaps appeared for the home side to exploit. Goal machine Ross Allen came close to a third when after skipping past Joe Hicks he was denied by the outstretched legs of Bracken. At the other end Casuals continued to work down the flanks but throughout the afternoon found the home side determined to hang onto the clean sheet.
Marc McGrath was twice denied as the game neared its conclusion. Firstly thwarted by Bracken before hitting the bar after being presented with the ball following Lee Hall’s slip.
A 3rd goal did eventually arrive in the 5th minute of stoppage time when Ross Allen delivered a cross from the right for fellow sub Ryan Zico-Black to head home.
Speaking after the match Matt Howard commented
“Although it was 3-0, I don’t think we played that bad. Our striker, Cisse (Bamoussa) has let us down massively today by not turning up for the flight. But do I think it was a 3-0 game… no, I don’t.
“Danny Bracken in goal was superb. We could’ve and should’ve gone 2-0 up. But we’ve lost because we haven’t defended well enough and attacking wise, we were very poor. We clearly weren’t good enough in the final third of the pitch and it cost us the game.
“I’m not concerned that players are perhaps thinking ahead to the tour to Brazil. Joe Hicks was complaining before the game and at half time about his hamstring, but he got through ninety minutes without cause for concern.
“In fact, if players pull out of tackles, that’s when they’re going to get hurt… and hurt big-time. So, I don’t think it’s even entered the player’s heads. I’ve seen no real signs that it has.
“The tour next week can be used to our advantage. We go away in what is a mid-season break and re-charge the batteries a little bit. I know we’ll be working like mad over there, but everyone is looking forward to it. And then we resume normal service; the league is the most important thing and very much our priority.”
Stuart Tree's photos can be seen here.