Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 18th August 2015
Report by Darren Pasley.
James Bracken's men made light work of South Park as Casuals eased into Round 2 of the Robert Dyas League Cup.
Seldom does this round of the cup come so soon in the season but it gave both managers the opportunity to give competitive game time to those yet to start this season. An opportunity both took advantage of.
The home side took an early lead in the 7th minute with the games first real opening. Dave Hodges volleying in a cross back into the centre from out on the left and the arriving Juevan Spencer guided home his side-foot volley to continue his midweek scoring spree.
Matt Reece starting for the first time was causing the visiting backline problems with his pace and movement, however he maybe should have doubled the lead on 12 minutes when he shot weakly wide following Spencer’s measured cut back.
The chances continued to come for the home side with Spencer at the heart of most of it. Firstly setting up Reece for a blocked effort before seeing the resulting corner headed off the line from Danny Dudley's attempt. South Park were desperately clinging on to stay in the match.
Kieron Lavery headed his sides first attempt at goal well over in the 22nd minute before Danny Bracken was called into action for the first and ultimately only time of the evening minutes later as he got down well to smother Jack Watts effort from outside the box.
The lead was doubled 4 minutes before the break as Brandon Johnson was caught by the dive of keeper Oscar and Josh Uzun slammed home his second spot kick in as many matches.
There was still time for South Park to threaten just before the whistle but the flying Lavery saw a header just flash the other side of the near post.
Young Reece continued to impress and 3 minutes after the interval fashioned a chance out of nothing from 20 yards but the half volley was just wide of Oscars right hand upright.
Substitute Ben Cotton showed a deft touch to beat his marker before driving into the box but his effort was beaten away by Oscar as Casuals attempted to rack up the pressure required to finish the match.
Midway though the second half Spencer came close to a second consecutive midweek brace when again he latched onto a Dave Hodges cross and although his first touch left the ball behind him he did well to swivel and get away a shot which flew just over.
Leading scorer Emmanuel Akokhia was introduced for the final 20 minutes and he immediately linked up with Diego Maradona with the later having a shot deflected away by he legs of Oscar.
The tie was finally put to bed in the 76th minute when Cotton deservedly scored his first Casuals goal when he calmly slot home after Maradona had been foiled by the Banks when clean through on goal.
3 soon became 4 when another substitute Akokhia smashed home low across the keeper from the right hand side after weaving past Hatfield.
Brandon Johnson was inches from adding a 5th deep into stoppage time when his 35 yard drive dipped just over the bar.
Assistant Manager Dan Pringle spoke to Stuart Tree after match.
“Tonight was a fantastic response to how we performed on Saturday. The result against Hythe wasn’t terrible after we got a 94th minute equaliser away from home with a new team.
“Maybe we were a little bit over-critical of ourselves because we want to win every game, but the way we’ve bounced back tonight was fantastic.
“We couldn’t ask any more of them… the work-rate, the way they kept the ball, took their chances. We controlled it from start to finish and never looked in trouble. Danny Bracken hasn’t had a save to make. We looked fantastic!
“Matt Reece came in and did fantastic. Ben Cotton had 45 minutes and in that time looked like a seasoned pro.
“We have a great bunch of players here and we’re spoilt for choice. But we’d rather have the problem of selecting from all good players than scratching around for those decent enough to play at this level.
“Even the Reserves can quite easily come in and do as well as what we’ve put out there tonight. It gives us options… if you looked at our bench tonight, we’ve had Kevant (Serbony) who’s has played every minute in the league so far, Mani (Emmanuel Akokhia) who’s scored four already and Ben Cotton who looked the part. So you’d much rather have that headache than scratching around looking for decent players.
“Hopefully, as the season progresses, everyone sticks together and the Reserves can get involved, it should be a good season.
“Unbeaten in four… and we only lost to Hampton and Kingstonian in pre-season too. And with the K’s, that was after playing on the Saturday just 48 hours before, which I put down to tired legs more than anything. Taking away that result, we’re looking good. We’ve got to be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. We’re only four games in but we are on a high, so let’s keep it going.
“It was a blip at the weekend (vs Hythe) but going there and nicking a point in the last minute could turn out to be vital come the end of the season if we’re looking to get promotion or the playoffs. Let’s just keep looking up… keep positive… keep going the way we have so far and I’m sure if we carry on with that approach it could be a very exciting season.”