Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 15th August 2015
Report and Pics: Stuart Tree (all pics can be seen here)
A last gasp penalty from Josh Uzun kept Corinthian-Casuals’ unbeaten start to the season going in a tough encounter away to Hythe Town in the Ryman League Division One.
And Manager James Bracken praised his players for showing “good character” to return home to Tolworth with a draw.
Hythe’s Reachfields Stadium has traditionally been a poor hunting ground for the Corinth but with the impressive wins over Worthing and Tooting to look back on, coupled with Hythe’s two defeats in two, there wasn’t a better chance for the Amateurs to take all three points for the first time against the Kent coasters.
Bracken had one enforced change to make; the unavailable Diego Maradona was replaced by last season’s top scorer Jamie Byatt – returning from a suspension that saw him miss the first two matches of the new campaign.
From the early exchanges, it was obvious that this was going to be a different affair to that which played out at Tooting’s KNK Stadium in midweek. Hythe looked hungry for their first point and gave very little away in midfield. However, the half played out without much action from either keeper.
However, Hythe’s stopper, Dan Eason was lucky to stay on the pitch in the dying minutes of the first period; Emmanuel Akokhia latched onto a defence-splitting pass and stole half a yard on his defender. Eason, charging out of his area, collided with Akokhia. Mr Michael Ryan, the man in charge immediately awarded a free kick but only cautioned the Cannon’s number one.
After the break, the home side upped the tempo and for large periods of the game, put Casuals’ defence under pressure. The back four remained resolute with the new partnership of Danny Dudley and Terry Murray nullifying most of the attacking threat. Hythe came closest within their dominating period when Laurence Harvey’s header clipped the top of the crossbar.
However, after 258 minutes without a goal conceded, Danny Bracken had to pick the ball out of the net for the first time this season; Hythe’s captain, James Morrish, skilfully chipping home over Bracken to give what looked like a home win in a tight affair.
Casuals looked a world away from the performances that saw them win two from two but the late introduction of debutant Emil Salama had a game changing effect.
Deep into stoppage time, Salama latched onto a pass and beat Eason to the ball, who in turn, didn’t miss Salama. Penalty! Eason wasn’t lucky enough to remain on the pitch this time and Hythe were down to ten men. Josh Uzun stepped up and calmly placed it past the substitute keeper to give Casuals a credible, if not slightly unjust draw.
After the match, James Bracken said of the result,
“You have to look at it as a point gained when you equalise with pretty much the last kick of the game. But it’s a good away point and we remain unbeaten.
“However, if you’d been in the dressing room, it was very quiet. There was no bouncing around because we want to win.
“A point is fine and there are positives to take from it, but we want to win!
“We were prepared for Hythe to be a little more physical and for large spells of the game we dealt with that just fine. They’ve scored a goal, not from a knock-down but a pass that we’ve not tracked a run. So it’s not a case that they’ve beat us down with set pieces or knocking balls in our box… we’ve coped with that aspect of their game fairly well today.
“Danny (Bracken) has not had to make a save of any note in the 90 minutes but they’ve nicked the goal in a tight game. Sometimes that’s enough to win it but we showed good character – we carried on and done enough to earn a draw.
“We weren’t at our best today. We’re not going to go out there and play exhibition football every week, win 3-0 and be comfortable. That’s just not going to happen. Sometimes you have to grind one out.
“We knew after the first twenty minutes that it was going to be one of those games where you have to stay in it. We could’ve quite easily nicked that first goal and maybe we’d have hung on for a 1-0 win. It didn’t work out that way but we’ve shown enough character to come away with a point.”