Ryman League Division One South
Wednesday 17th August 2016
Match report and photos: Stuart Tree (full set of pics here)
It was tough going, but it finally happened; Corinthian-Casuals claimed their first victory over South Park in the League. Though they made hard work of claiming all three points on this August evening.
Historically, the ‘other’ King George’s hasn’t been happy hunting ground for Corinth since the Sparks joined the Ryman League in 2014. A 4-1 loss and a feisty draw, in which ‘Buster’ James Wastell was seriously injured back in January meant that Casuals had only earned a point against the Reigate side in four meetings. Wastell was back for this matchup, celebrating 300 appearances for his side, proving what a vital cog he is in Park’s engine.
James Bracken and his side were determined in laying to rest the moniker of ‘Bogey side’. They’d beaten one former foe on the Saturday – Whyteleafe. Now it was South Park’s turn. On the back of a 4-1 loss to Hastings, the home side were determined to get much more from this encounter. And more they nearly did.
Casuals started bright; Shaun Okojie danced between placidity and full force as he proved yet again to be a threat. Interlinking play between him and Josh Gallagher caused problems as did Warren Morgan, turning defence into attack with usual aplomb. Morgan was harshly denied a penalty when his opposite number Luke Elliott caught the ankle and felled the right-back.
Within minutes, it mattered not; Josh Uzun and Kevant Serbony began to probe and the latter squared the ball for Brandon Johnson who let one fly from outside the box – his shot forcing Wastell into a fine save. Who was on hand to mop up the rebound? Okojie of course. A striker’s instinct this youngster definitely has.
In truth, the first half looked comfortable for Casuals on a surface that suits their game, but thoughts strayed to half time oranges a minute early as Kofi Quartey made light work of the Corinth back line before squaring to Captain Keiran Lavery, had the time and presence to take a touch and find the mark.
They say a late first half goal can change the complexion of the team talk and it must have done in the home side’s changing room. Park came out firing on all cylinders. Casuals barely threatened the oppositions half, let alone the box. A second goal was coming; first the false start – Quartey heading home a cross which was only cancelled out by the linesman’s flag. Danny Bracken in goal was on full alert, saving well from Lavery. But Park pushed on more, corner after corner and eventually, the defensive lines were broken – the captain grabbing his second.
Before most could gather their thoughts, Casuals were level… and how! Jamie Byatt crossed to his strike partner Okojie, who took a sublime touch before hooking home a fine shot past the helpless Wastell. The celebration was one of calm and arrogance that strangely befitted the stunning strike.
Again, South Park came at the back line, yet this time, all held firm. Casuals grew into the half more and on 73 minutes, the turnaround was complete. Uzun’s outswinging corner found Terry Murray at the near post and his looping header sailed into the opposite top corner. Park were gutted… Casuals elated. Time dragged on and on but Corinth held on for their ninth league win in a row and left Park pointless after two games. Manager James Bracken wasn’t so pleased stating that “the only good thing to come out of the evening was three goals scored and three points gained.” Win ugly? Perhaps. Put to bed another bogey side? Definitely.
Casuals: Bracken (c), Morgan, Hodges, Dudley, Murray, Johnson, Uzun (Strange 90), Gallagher, Byatt (Cottee 63), Okojie, Serbony (Spencer 63). Subs not used: Brown, Cotton