Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 20th September 2014
Report and pics by Stuart Tree
Corinthian-Casuals earned themselves a point with a much improved second half performance against a well organised Tooting and Mitcham side in the Ryman League Division One South.
Casuals came into the game after missing a midweek fixture due to their scheduled opponent’s involvement in the FA Cup. Manager Matt Howard made two changes from the side that lost 4-1 against Three Bridges; Jordan Vidal and Danny Dudley returned to the centre of defence for Corinth – the latter serving his red-card ban with Danny Green and Mason Welch-Turner moving to the bench.
The early exchanges were played with caution and neither side exploded into the match. In the fifth minute, ex-Casuals’ Jordan Cheadle, usually deadly from set pieces fired over from a free kick. At the other end, Jordan Vidal’s deep cross found Carl Wilson-Denis but keeper Paul Smith was on hand to keep the striker from scoring.
On 22 minutes, the first real clear cut chance fell to the home side. The pacy Juevan Spencer found himself one-on-one with Paul Smith and with just the keeper to beat, Spencer dragged the ball too close to Smith who was able to gather up the ball. Seven minutes later, Causals were to pay for not taking the opportunity.
Dan Summers beat two defenders and crashed in a low shot past Danny Bracken and into the bottom corner. Casuals shoulders slumped and Tooting’s dominance was telling. The home side were quickly turning in an insipid performance with the Terrors first to every ball and clearances from the Casuals back line quickly falling back into the feet of the visitors. Tooting went into the break the deserved leaders and Casuals with much work to do.
With a stern talking to behind them, Casuals emerged a different side in the second half. Their attacking intent was evident to all 221 in attendance. Jordan Vidal and Dave Hodges interlinked beautifully and the majority of the attack came from the left side. Joe Hicks and Jamie Byatt both had chances go begging from crosses provided on the wing.
That’s not to say Tooting were on the backfoot; the Terrors were looking to kill the game off and had a couple of solid chances to do so. Tinashe Nkoma continued to haunt the Casuals defence and his skilful run ended with a rasping shot that sails over the bar… and in truth should have scored.
The Amateurs continued to pile on pressure and get back on level terms and did so on 65 minutes. Maz Bettache worked his quick feet to dance round three Tooting defenders before laying off the ball in a one-two with Hodges and cooly slotting past Paul Smith to bury the ball from a tight angle. It was a goal befitting of the skill that the young midfielder possesses and was of real quality.
Tinashe Nkoma had a golden opportunity to restore Tooting’s lead but with acres of space out wide, he once again blasts his shot over… the youngster seemingly leaving his shooting boots at home.
Casuals can feel aggrieved that they weren’t awarded a penalty. Carl Wilson Denis, on controlling a cross is clattered into and the big forward tumbled to the floor. Whilst the referee’s view may have been blocked, for those supporters behind the goal (and an iPhone video replay) there was no uncertainty as to what the decision should have been.
Almost immediately, Wilson-Denis found himself once again centre of attention after his header almost found the net but a scramble by Paul Smith was enough to keep it out.
By this point, the game was wide open and both sides sensed that three points were up for grabs. Danny Bracken was called into action after Sol Pinnock weaved through the defence and Danny Dudley also making a decent last ditch block. Casuals also had another penalty shout turned down when Michael Fahm was clattered into by the onrushing Paul Smith.
In time added on, Tooting should’ve taken the points after Billy Marshall found himself free in the middle of the Casuals six yard box. But with the goal seemingly easier to score than miss, he blazed his shot high over the bar. Tooting could’ve taken the three points and if this was Rugby, Marshall would’ve had them.
On reflection, a draw seemed to be the right result for both sides and an entertaining game was played in good spirits in front of a decent crowd.
After the match, Manager Matt Howard spoke.
“That wasn’t nearly good enough from us today. If we think we can just coast through games and be acceptable, then Luke and I let them know in no uncertain terms that it’s not good enough.”
“I was disappointed overall but pleased that we got the reaction that we did after half time.
“I didn’t see the Carl Wilson-Denis incident, but Luke said that it was a stonewall penalty… he was absolutely adamant. But forget Carl’s shout… that was a penalty at the end. If Michael (Fahm) wins the ball like the assistant says he does, then the goalkeeper has wiped him out.
“On another day, Tooting could’ve scored four or five and we could’ve got a couple more but I think the draw is a fair result. If I’m honest, before the game, I’d have taken that.”
Stuart Tree’s match photos can be seen here.