Ryman League Division One South
Monday 6th April
Report by Darren Pasley
Pics: Stuart Tree
Pics can be viewed here
Casuals compounded a miserable Easter period as they went down 2-1 to bottom placed Horsham at Gorings Mead on Bank Holiday Monday.
After the 2-1 reversal at home to East Grinstead 48 hours earlier Carl Wilson-Denis returned to the attacked whilst captain Joe Hicks returned after his two-game suspension.
The home started brightly on what appeared to be a firm but bouncy surface with a lot of extra touches needed to bring the ball under control.
The first real threat on goal came in the 10th minute when Gregg Betty latched onto a good cross-field pass by Richie Welch but despite getting inside Jake Gill the returning skipper Hicks was on hand to intercept the danger.
Casuals first effort arrived from the boot of Lee Hall in the 25th minute as a corner fell invitingly his way but his fierce effort was just over the bar.
Despite their good start the home side never threatened to test Danny Bracken in the Casuals goal and it was soon the visitors who took a foot hold of the game.
In the 37th minute the best chance of the half so far arrived when Dave Hodges latching onto Bettache’s pass side-footed over with just keeper Gareth Williams to beat following a flowing move.
Casuals were now pouring forward as they sensed the vulnerability of the home backline but despite seeing plenty of the ball in wide areas far often too not the crosses lacked the quality required.
In a similar position to his effort earlier in the half Lee Hall was inches away with his angled drive and Andy Mills went close with a volley as the visitors firmly applied the pressure. Williams in the home goal had to be alert to tip over a Bettache free-kick that seemed intended for a cross.
The final action of the half saw Dave Hodges find Wilson-Denis but his shot was charged down by Tom Gilbert as the Hornets clung onto level terms going into the break.
Casuals looked to continue on top during the second period but 9 minutes after the break the home side were awarded a penalty. Tony Nwachukwu doing brilliantly down the wing from George Bramford’s pass and after turning Gill his low cross inside the area was met by the hand of the sliding Andy Mills. Nwachukwu stepped up himself to smash the kick off the underside of the bar to open the scoring.
Mason Welch-Turner was next to foray into the box on the hour after Byatt seized on a loose ball but off-balance his effort failed to trouble Gareth Williams.
The goal boosted the confidence of the home side who were now seemingly more eager to get on the ball, in turn this left more gaps however for the visitors to try and find a way back into the match. Following a Juevan Spencer cross Byatt flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the box.
In the 78th minute following Brackens quick release Hodges and Byatt combined to tee up sub Max Austin in the area but his left footed shot was wide despite being well positioned. Within moments an incident occurred with two players attempting to retrieve the same ball.Jamie Byatt and Anthony Story clashed which saw the player manager staggering away clutching his face.Acting on the advice of his assistant Mr Pike dismissed Byatt who seemed bewildered with the decision.
With 6 minutes remaining McCreadie should have sealed the points when somehow he failed to connect with Ehis Izokun’s cross when inside the 6 yard box.It mattered little however as within 60 seconds he had shrugged Joe Hicks off the ball before driving into the box and slotting over Bracken to seal the points for the strugglers.
Into injury time and 7 minutes were announced. Dave Hodges was inches away from reducing arrears with a lob that dropped just the wrong side of the post. Shortly afterwards however Casuals were given a slim route back into the match when Carl Wilson-Denis finished at the far post following Lee Hall’s pass.
Following a poor Hicks clearance, McCreadie attempted a Charlie Adam esq shot from the halfway line but his effort rebounded off the crossbar and into the path of a grateful Danny Bracken.
With a minute remaining Joe Hicks from a corner smashed a volley just wide of the right hand post and despite a final flurry of corners ex-Casuals keeper Williams who was superb throughout and faultless with his handling came to his sides rescue and Horsham had their first home win since January.
After the match Manager Matt Howard was quick to defend his 26-goal striker.
“I’m not going to have a go at Jamie (Byatt) for getting sent off. I think it was just frustration that he wanted to get the game going and get the ball back. The referee wasn’t doing his job, so Jamie tried to do it for him.
“He shouldn’t have tried to grab the ball but he certainly didn’t throw a punch or anything.
“Don’t get me wrong, if we were in Horsham’s shoes, we would probably try to slow the game down and kill the game off, but the referee has let them get away with time-wasting.
“In terms of the season, Luke (Garrard - assistant manager) and I were speaking before the match. We started with the thought that we’ve underachieved. But actually, if we sit back and take stock of the whole season, we’ve massively overachieved.
“We’re a club that doesn’t pay any of its players, usually fighting off relegation from the league and have even had reprieves to save us. So for us to be safe with nine games to play, we’ve definitely overachieved.
“Why do I look at this season as a success? For a start, we don’t pay money. Anyone that finishes below Corinthian-Casuals that has a playing budget should ask themselves “hold on a minute… what are we doing here?” You do have to ask the question of how is that possible?
“We’re also a small squad. When you’re at a club that doesn’t pay its players like us, you can’t carry a big squad because they can easily go elsewhere and sit on the bench but be paid. For that reason, it’s hard to keep players here.
“The goal for the remainder of the season now is to make sure we get another three points from our last four games to break the club record.”