Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 2nd February 2016
The Pilot Field
Match photos here.
Corinthian-Casuals left Hasting’s Pilot Field feeling aggrieved they weren’t walking away with three points after leading twice, only to be pegged back on each occasion.
In a feisty affair, both sides shared six goals and two penalties to each take a vital point, yet not concede any to their opponents as both clubs strive for the playoffs.
The game was marred by the sudden illness of referee John Pike who had to be treated by Paramedics. A delay of nearly half an hour saw the resumption of the game with Ryman League Chairman, Nick Robinson taking the far line as Assistant Referee to ensure the completion of the tie.
Corinth’s preparations for the match were hampered after a road closure left the M25 gridlocked. Arriving just half an hour before the allotted kick-off time, Casuals had little time to warm up on the fresh winter’s evening.
The first half played out without much drama and was frankly a bit of a stalemate. Hastings had a good measure of possession but were unable to break down a resolute Casuals defence. Juevan Spencer had the best chance of the half for the visitors when his 25 yard effort whistled inches past the upright.
The second half was in complete contrast to the first. Both sides ramped up their aggression and awoke the 250-odd in attendance. Just three minutes after the re-start, Niall Wright broke the deadlock – his low drive from the edge of the penalty box skidding under Harry Girling in goal and finding the bottom corner.
Casuals doubled their lead on 54 minutes when Sam Cole was adjudged to have fouled Warren Morgan in the box. Ever reliable Josh Uzun stepped up and hit home from 12 yards for his fifteenth goal of the season.
Hastings pulled one back just four minutes later when the Casuals’ defence parted like the Red Sea and let Zac Attwood latched onto a Sean Ray header and calmly slotted under Danny Bracken in goal.
Parity was restored in the 76th minute when a cross was handled by Terry Murray and forced the official to point to the spot. Sam Cole fired into the bottom corner without trouble.
However, the game took an unpleasant turn when Referee John Pike looked to be in serious trouble with his health. In what was a feisty affair, matters turned to more important things than football and both sides looked concerned for the wellbeing of Mr Pike. The emergency services were on hand in quick time to aid the stricken official and after a delay of 25 minutes, play was to resume. Ryman League Chairman, Nick Robinson, who was in attendance on behalf of the league, donned suitable attire to run the far side line.
The drama was to continue; Juevan Spencer, who’d been relatively quiet all game, cut in down the left and squared his pass to Brandon Johnson who squeezed his shot inside the post, much to the jubilation of himself and his teammates.
The celebrations were cut short just three minutes later when Girling sent a long free kick into the area and with the ball cleared only to defender Simon Johnson, he duly cracked a stunning effort into the top corner to bring alive the home crowd and take a share of the points.
The result leaves Casuals in 12th position, eight points off the playoffs but with two games in hand on most of their rivals.
From all at Corinthian-Casuals, we wish John Pike a full and speedy recovery. Get well soon!
After the match, Manager James Bracken had these words.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Yet again, it’s another game that we’ve come away from saying that we should’ve got more from.
“That’s been the story of our season. We’ve had good spells, good wins, good performances but too many games, we’ve come away from where we’re saying ‘how have we not won that?’
“I can’t knock the boys though. Again, they’ve put in everything tonight. After the stoppage, we’ve done what we’ve always done; we’ve been positive. We’ve gone for it, changed the shape, put more up front and tried to win the game away from home against probably the second biggest budget in the league at a guess.
“Hastings have decent players and they don’t play for free. We’ve come here tonight and given them a right run for their money and they’re delighted to get away with a draw against my team who haven’t even had a pre-game warm-up. But we just got on with it.
“I said before Christmas, when the pitches have been as bad as they have and the ten or so games in the windiest conditions you’ll ever play in, it makes games a lottery. When you come across a team with sluggers that just compete, it becomes an even game.
“When the pitches firm up, like it was today and at the start of the season when we were top, it will favour us.
“It’s just about keeping in the mix – which is hard now – right down to thirteenth place, everyone’s still fighting for it. Every week, half of those sides will pick up wins, so we need to make sure we are in that half more often than not. Then come the last ten games of the season, if we’re three to six points outside the playoffs, we’ll have a right good crack at it. It’s definitely achievable.
“With the club we are and the way things are, if we can hit the playoffs then the lads deserve all the credit in the world.
“We played Niall Wright and Brandon Johnson as two holders today and they’ve both hit the edge of the box at different times and they’ve scored two very good goals. I’m delighted with them. I’ve spoken to the lads recently about not scoring enough goals.
“For boys like Mani (Akokhia) who’s 21 years old, it can be a lot of pressure on a young man’s shoulders. Playing at this level as a 21 year old would usually involve them being a substitute forward who chips in goals coming off the bench, does bits and pieces and learns the game. With Mani, we threw him in from the beginning, where he had a blistering start and then there’s been pressure on his shoulders since.
“We’ve managed to relieve that a little bit recently with Shaun Okojie and Stef Joseph getting game time. They’ve both led the line well. I’m delighted with all three players and have no problems with our strike force but if the midfielders and wingers can start chipping in again along with the defenders coming up for set pieces then scoring won’t be a problem.
“We’ve scored three away from home tonight at a hard place to come. Guernsey came here a couple of weeks ago and lost 2-0. Tonight, we’ve bagged three goals but it’s just unfortunate when the geezer hits a shot like that at the end which goes right in the top corner right at the end.
“I hope the referee is okay and makes a full recovery. He got the big decisions right in the game. There was a bit of a mix up when he’s been taken off and the assistant has taken over during an incident which I believe should’ve resulted in a red card, but it hasn’t. But that’s football and we won’t dwell on that as we now concentrate on Saturday.”