Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 27th September 2016
Report: Cameron Smith. Pics: Stuart Tree (full set here)
Marking his 300th appearance with a goal, the tireless Jamie Byatt aided a fabulous Corinthian-Casuals performance as Three Bridges left King George’s with a 2-0 loss on their record.
The beaming James Bracken said that Saturday’s 1-0 home victory against the courageous Ramsgate was “probably our best win of the season”. Shaun Okojie’s vital nudge on a Juevan Spencer pass sent Casuals into dreamland as an impressive start to the season continued, currently sitting in third place.
Jamie Byatt, who was benched for Saturday’s game, would pick up his 300th appearance award in a chocolate and pink shirt as the club legend’s name appeared on the team-sheet at King George’s. ‘Busy’ chucked the no.11 shirt on as he replaced Jordan Clarke on the left wing. Another change was in midfield as Ramsgate conqueror Spencer earned himself a spot in the starting XI ahead of Josh Uzun.
The visitors to Tolworth on a cold Tuesday night were Three Bridges, who had made the hour-or-so trip from East Sussex to improve on previous meetings between the two. Last season, Corinth had taken six points from Three Bridges by scoring once on each occasion. The more celebratory was when Corinth netted in the 95th minute to grab the victory at Jubilee Walk. A four game losing streak and without a single win away from home, Three Bridges were in a poor run of form.
The seventeen place difference between the teams was showcased after only a few minutes. Fresh from netting his seventh league goal of the season, Okojie was looking sharp as he rounded the keeper with simplicity and ease. However, the super striker was unable to dispatch as the defender skillfully dispossessed him when the ball got trapped between his feet. A few half-chances from Spencer and Okojie filled the first 30 minutes before the deadlock was broken.
A delightful in-swinging corner from Maz Bettache beat the flailing arms of goalkeeper Kieron Thorp and it fell for who else but Mr Three-Hundred man - Jamie Byatt. Byatt nodded the ball into the empty net from a few yards out on the half hour mark. Passionate celebrations from the player driven by passion for Corinthian-Casuals. A true legend.
Three Bridges’ main chance, arrived when Danny Bracken lived up to his title as ‘England’s no.1’ when keeping out a point blank header and a lightning quick rebound which followed. Bettache was terrorising the anxious Three Bridges defence again, this time a pinpoint cross for Okojie but his header flew just over the bar. He had another golden chance as he was allowed through on goal by a defence-splitting ball from the midfield. Okojie attempted to place an effort into the near post but Thorpe’s gloves said otherwise. The half-time whistle blew as Casuals entered the next 45 with a 1-0 lead.
Carrying on from the first half, Casuals remained the dominant force. Spencer was denied again as Thorpe managed to save Three Bridges. The stunning heroics had kept the score-line 1-0 until the 56th minute.
After retaining the ball from edging over the line, Josh Gallagher squared the ball to Maz Bettache, who was in acres of space. The midfielder netted his second of the season as he turned and fired the ball in one quick motion. Eluding the stranded Thorpe, the effort clipped off the post before finding the net in a fantastic finish. Finally, the second goal had arrived for Corinth.
The Bridges nearly brought Casuals back down to earth as a free-kick was so nearly converted as the powerful strike skimmed the crossbar. Kieron Thorpe in the Bridge net continued to stop shots on goal as Jamie Byatt had a 1 on 1 saved, whilst Okojie was denied by a magnificent punch.
Despite dominating the chances and possession, Casuals were unable to add to the 2-0 scoreline as the referee signalled for full-time.
Three Bridges took the late drive back to Sussex with another away loss and a position change to 20th. First-placed Dorking Wanderers are the next competitors who face the Bridge. Meanwhile, Corinthians sit in 3rd, a point behind Tooting & Mitcham, who lost 2-1 to Molesey. A trip to the seaside is next on the agenda with relegation-placed Herne Bay who host James Bracken’s majestic pink and brown army.
“We've addressed our defensive problems and have to be happy with two clean sheets in two games. We've only conceded three goals in the last five games, since the six let in against Hythe," said Bracken after the match.
“Something needed to be looked at, as I said at the time. We've done that, worked on it and now we look far more solid and that's how we'll win games.
“It should've been a lot more than two scored tonight. When you see Carshalton winning by ten goals and Walton Casuals banging in seven, that tonight should've been up there with those scores. Realistically, we've had four or five one-on-one chances, two open goals missed and that's all on top of the two we've scored. If we take those chances, and some were absolute sitters, then you're looking at a big score. But three points is three points, regardless of how many we bagged.
“We've got a nice little attitude at the moment where we're approaching one game at a time. We won't under-estimate anyone. I'll be thinking about the next game this week and picking the team for Saturday.
“It might not be the same eleven that plays as we did tonight. We've won 2-0 but I've dropped goalscorers in the game after regularly. It doesn't seem to be steering us too far wrong at the moment. Everyone has a great attitude and when they're picked they're delivering a performance that ensures we win games. We'll only focus on the next game.”