Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 23rd January 2016
Match report and photos: Stuart Tree (full set of photos here)
Corinthian-Casuals and South Park not only shared the points but also four red cards with both sides feeling aggrieved at how the game played out.
The decisions made by referee Mr Damith Bandara left many at South Park’s King George’s Field wondering how so many bookings and dismissals had been dished out. Supporters of both sides jokingly questioned whether they themselves had found their way into the official’s book.
Kevant Serbony had given Casuals the lead in the eighth minute before Kieran Lavery equalised midway through the second half – his 150th goal in under 300 appearances for the club.
Casuals named a largely unchanged line up to that which had defeated Faversham. Only Dave Hodges was replaced by Ben King at left back. South Park, though behind Casuals in the table, had not lost in five outings, drawing the previous four.
Corinth started brightly and took charge after just eight minutes; A Josh Uzun free kick lofted into the penalty box failed to be cleared and the ball fell invitingly to Kevant Serbony who smashed home from ten yards.
Shouts for a penalty a few minutes later were turned away after Shaun Okojie looked to have been felled by James Wastell in the South Park goal. However, the striker had started from an offside position and was thus penalised for the infringement.
As the half progressed, the home side grew into the game pushing Casuals onto the back foot. James Bracken made a fine save low to his left from Dan Moody’s shot. Ben King fizzed a shot past Wastell’s right post but aside from that, there was little else of note attacking-wise for both sides.
The second half initially started the way the first had ended but Casuals pushed on seeking to find that all-important second goal. Joe Hicks, once again looking strong in the middle of the park laid off a decent incisive ball to Juevan Spencer but the winger could only blast at Wastell.
The breakthough almost came in the 65th minute. A goalmouth scramble in the South Park area saw the ball dangerously close to crossing the line. In the resulting melee, Wastell was wounded with a severe gash to the face which saw the keeper leave the field of play and attend hospital. He would later need 26 stitches to close the wound.
With no substitute goalkeeper, outfield player Dan Moody donned the keeper’s shirt and gloves. Sensing a real chance for victory, Casuals imposed themselves more. Terry Murray’s hooked shot from yards out somehow evaded the goal, much to the disbelief of the supporters behind the goal.
The task was made even harder for South Park after Alex Penfold was the first to be dismissed for a foul on Spencer.
Despite the setbacks, on 70 minutes, the scores were level. From a whipped in corner, Kieran Lavery perfectly met the ball at the near post, steering it past Bracken for an unlikely equaliser. Since they had gone down to ten men, Park looked the more dangerous. Tactical changes from Manager James Bracken changed the impetus with forwards Stef Joseph and Emmanuel Akokhia entering the fray.
Making the extra man tell, Okojie broke down the left and facing Moody one-on-one in goal, the striker dithered before crossing to Joseph who smashed his effort over the bar. Minutes later, Okojie missed a free header from yards out, flying just inches over the bar.
In what had been a competitive game which had also seen Casuals Assistant Manager Dan Pringle sent to the stands, things descended into a farce. The referee failed to control what seemed to be a minor fracas on the floor.
When it was all sorted out, Bandara had no hesitation in brandishing red cards to seemingly whoever was in his vicinity. South Park were down to nine men and Casuals’ Brandon Johnson was also dismissed. It was an unsavoury end to what had ultimately been an entertaining encounter.
From all at Corinthian-Casuals, we wish James Wastell all the best and hope he makes a full recovery from his nasty injury.
The draw leaves Casuals in eleventh place, five points off the playoff places but with games in hand.
After the match, James Bracken spoke to Stuart Tree.
“We’re disappointed as we were one-nil up. Okay – first half we’ve not played particularly well although we’ve scored. Second half, we’ve got back on the front foot, playing relatively well but didn’t kill the game off.
“They went down to ten men, lost their goalkeeper and at that point, it becomes a game that we have to win. And yet we haven’t so we’re bitterly disappointed with not getting the points.
“It’s another game unbeaten and we’re not in bad form but we just need to score a few more goals. We’ve created chances today. If we’re not creating chances, you really have to look at things, but we are and we have to learn how to kill a game off.
“Two free headers inside the six yard box and we’ve missed the target with both. South Park then get a set piece goal, which to be fair is a fantastic header. Both of our chances were much easier than that but not scored.
“We blazed a couple of shots over and we’ve made poor decisions in the final third where the ball played hasn’t been good enough.
“They’re the fine margins where we’ve got to tighten up and just make sure we get these opportunities to score the extra goals, just like we did against Faversham. There, we had three chances in the first half, scoring two goals. We then added another early in the second half and it was job done. It should’ve been the same today.
“But it’s that old cliché where one goal is never enough. Against ten men, when they get set pieces, they know it’s an opportunity to nick one. They wanted it a little bit more and the lad has put together a good header.
“Four red cards in a game where it was competitive? I’m no referee but I’m pretty sure I could’ve managed that game better. Maybe I would’ve given one red card out of those… but four!?
“There’s a problem with referees at this level . There’s just no common sense. They’re influenced by shouts and calls. They just don’t seem to manage the game the way I feel they should. They’re very rarely in control.
“The referee’s influenced the game all the way through and there were just a lot of wrong decisions.
“When referees start changing their mind, you set yourself up for a bad game. They should be in control. They have to stick with what they see and that’s all I’ll ever ask of any of them. Just give what you see… don’t give what you hear, what you think you see or what you’re told has happened.
“If you get it wrong, then okay… fair enough. But when they change their minds and give decisions that I don’t believe they see but end up throwing red cards about, then that’s poor.
“Every one of our upcoming games is massive. The only plus point from today is we’ve stopped South Park getting a few points, which is going to be the case in every game now.
“If you don’t win the game, then at least you stop the opposition getting three points away from you.
“There’s thirteen teams still in it. We have to be wary now because there’s little gaps starting to open up in the table. The top three look like they’re breaking clear, so it looks as though we’re playing for fourth and fifth and we just need to make sure we stay in the hunt for that.”
Corinthian-Casuals line up: Bracken, Morgan, King (Baker), Dudley, Murray (Joseph), Johnson, Hicks, Serbony (Akokhia), Okojie, Uzun, Spencer. Subs not used: Wright, Mendy.