Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 22nd November 2014
Match report and pics by Stuart Tree
Casuals picked up a valuable hard-fought point away to Sittingbourne in this Ryman League Division One South tie helping Casuals to emerge from a difficult run of results in the past few weeks.
The result meant Matt Howard’s side have picked up four points in the last two games after a barren spell in the league which saw just one win in nine league matches before a resounding win over Ramsgate last week.
Although Casuals were without Dave Hodges and Lee Hall, they looked to build on the win last week but faced tough opposition in Sittingbourne who defeated Casuals 3-0 at King George’s on the opening day of the season.
On a surface hit hard by rain, the match started slow with the pitch causing miskicks and errors for both sides. However, the deadlock was broken by the referee after he pointed to the spot following a frankly harsh handball decision that went against Sittingbourne. Jamie Byatt stepped up to smash the ball home, scoring his twelfth goal of the season and to give the Casuals the lead.
The second half picked up where the first left off but soon opened up with Casuals looking to kill the game off and Sittingbourne to find an equaliser. Jamie Byatt, Maz Bettache and Jordan Vidal all had chances to get the vital second goal. However, with pressure telling, Sittingbourne equalised through Hicham Akhazzan who pinged a vicious shot from an acute angle that Danny Bracken couldn’t keep out.
Sittingbourne looked for a winner with a Jono Richardson header going wide and Elie Kayembe seeing his shot go flashing past the post. With Bourne pushing up, Jamie Byatt caused problems on the break but the tie ended honours even.
After the match, First Team Coach Joe Davies spoke to Stuart Tree.
“Before the game we probably would’ve settled for a point, playing away to a decent side in poor conditions.
“It was a fair result but we had a couple of chances with the ball flashing across the face of the goal which could have won it for us.
“There are always improvements to be made but if you look at the fact we lost to the same side 3-0 on the opening day of the season there’s a real progress there. Even a couple of weeks ago, we probably would’ve lost today when they equalised. However, there’s evidence of progression.
“We missed a couple of players; Lee Hall and Dave Hodges might have made a bit of a difference but the team today done okay.
“There’s always a good team spirit no matter what the results are, however winning helps massively. After the poor run we’ve had, to be two unbeaten now is great. If we can go into the game against Worthing next week at home and pick up three points, then we’ll have seven from three matches which is back to where we want to be.”
Stuart Tree's photos from the match can be seen here.