Ryman Dicision One South
Monday 2nd January 2017
Match report: Stuart Tree. Photo: Paul Downs
Corinthian-Casuals were unable to replicate the fine finish to 2016 as they were defeated by three goals to one at Tooting and Mitcham.
Coming off the back of seven wins and a draw, James Bracken’s side couldn’t reach the level of performance seen pre-Christmas in what was their first outing since Boxing Day’s 0-0 draw with Walton Casuals.
Tooting by contrast had ended a run of four matches without a win by defeating Whyteleafe 2-1 at the KNK Stadium just two days earlier.
The hosts started the brighter of the two sides and a lethargic looking Casuals were on the back-foot for the majority of the first 45 minutes. Captain Danny Bracken was called into action on several occasions making a string of fine acrobatic saves as the Terrors hammered shot upon shot at the Corinth goal.
The breakthrough came on 38 minutes when Claudio Hoban’s corner was inch-perfectly whipped in and beat everyone, including Bracken to find the opposite top corner.
The setback appeared to galvanise Casuals and after going one down, began to impose themselves on the game. Winger Juevan Spencer caused multiple problems for the home defence. His persistence paid off beating his two markers to square a perfect ball across the box for Jamie Byatt to fire home. Agonisingly, the ball hit a divot and bobbled up on the striker just before pulling the trigger and ‘Busy’ could only watch in disbelief as his shot spooned up over the bar.
Terry Murray also came close in the dying minutes following a set-piece as his header whistled past Kyle Merson’s far post.
Casuals re-appeared with renewed vigour in the second half and displayed more of their potential. Jordan Clarke was closest to levelling the scores after his shot ricocheted off the right hand post along the goal mouth and hit the opposite upright before Tooting’s lines were cleared.
The Terrors looked to use the counter attack to their advantage and ruthlessly doubled their lead just after the hour mark. Taurean Roberts slotted low past Bracken from a quick break much to the delight of the home fans.
Casuals reverted to three at the back in an effort to get something from the game and they earned a way back into the match on 77 minutes. Shaun Okojie neatly converted a cross from Spencer sliding the ball in at the back post, despite injuring himself in the process.
Just three minutes passed before Tooting struck the killer blow. Sandy Cunningham despatching the ball into an empty net following a precise cross from the wing. With ten minutes remaining, it was hard to see Frank Wilson’s side succumbing a two-goal lead.
Never giving up, Casuals looked to push on and Warren Morgan’s surge into the box, interlinked with neat passing saw the defender’s stab at goal well saved by Merson. Time was called on the game and Casuals suffered their first league defeat since early November. Tooting maintained their second place in the league but despite the loss, Casuals sit handily in fifth with games in hand on those above them in the table.
After the match, Assistant Manager Joe Davies spoke to Stuart Tree.
“The first half, we just weren’t good enough. We were slow to everything, we didn’t take individual responsibility and as a team, we sat off too deep and thus didn’t get near them. There were too many errors both on and off the ball. It’s something we’ll have to look at.
“Second half, we’ve got stuck in a bit more and reacted in a way which we expected. We were probably unlucky to concede the second goal at the time we did as we were on top at that stage. But if you don’t take your chances, you’re liable to be caught with a sucker punch.
“Did missing the Guernsey fixture contribute to the performance? Perhaps, but I don’t want to make excuses. It’s a tough one to answer though as we just won’t ever know.
“At the start of the season, we earmarked December as a very tough month. We’d have happily taken some draws in that period, especially for the away fixtures. An example being Hastings where we’ve won when probably not expected to do so. Carshalton away was also another big win in the scheme of things. So to get seven wins and a draw from that run, we’re delighted. Obviously, we’d have like to have carried on that run but we didn’t match those levels here at Tooting.
“So we can’t be too downbeat. From the second half of the performance against Tooting, there’s positives to take but we absolutely cannot go into games playing the way we did in the first half. If we expect to win, that has to change.
“Lewes will be a tough ask. They’re included in the run of games that we knew would be a tough test for us. But at home, we’ve got a pretty good record, taking 24 points from a possible 36 this season. For that reason, we’ll fancy our chances.”