Ryman Division One South
Tuesday 7th February 2017
Match Report Cameron Smith: Photo Stuart Tree (Full set HERE)
Despite a cluster of missed chances in a ravenous second-half, Corinthian Casuals were able to cruise past East Grinstead Town with a deserved 2-0 scoreline to close the all-important play-off gap.
Insane celebrations in the Casuals end at Whyteleafe’s Church Road, via Jack Strange’s sublime glancing header saw Corinthians add three valuable points to the tally! In eighth place, Casuals returned to the inaugural King George’s for a replay against East Grinstead Town. On Tuesday 29th November 2016, the referee concluded the match in the 59th minute (scoreline at 0-0) due to a frozen surface. Diaries at the ready, the league announced that the re-match would take place in early February…
The white away shirts of East Grinstead Town dispersed across the pitch as their youthful side faced the chocolate and pink of Casuals. A jubilant Saturday was mutual for both Corinth and East Grinstead following the Wasps’ impressive 3-0 home victory over Molesey. Countering this on-form starting XI was an efficient and well-constructed team built by James Bracken; Warren Morgan was absent so the previously-suspended Juevan Spencer was drafted in once more. In attack, Josh Gallagher and Josh Uzun started ahead of Jordan Clarke and the injured Jamie Byatt (a hamstring strain).
It took six minutes for Casuals to find their feet and take advantage of the inexperienced defence of East Grinstead. Congested, both sides were lacking width so when Dave Hodges determinedly sprinted down the left flank, a great opportunity was created. Denied by the foot of no.2 Malachi Robinson, Hodges had earned a corner kick for Casuals. Josh Uzun strolled to the corner and superbly aimed towards Danny Dudley in the centre. The centre-back stabbed the ball into the corner of the net; Casuals were 1-0 up.
Ten minutes later, Shaun Okojie, who has had an unusual three game drought, was searching for the second goal when he brilliantly powered past the physical Drew Cooney and flashed a great effort just wide of the post. Josh Gallagher craved his third goal of this season when he fired a low shot before Chris Haigh crushed his desire by making a finger tip save. Josh Uzun nearly assisted another goal as he curled a delicious cross for Okojie, who was positioned on the penalty spot, but the striker’s expertly placed header was cancelled out by Haigh’s remarkable reflexes. The visitors also threatened in the first 45 by Travis Gregory’s free-kick and an agonising Kwaiye header from a perfect corner. At halftime, it was deservedly still 1-0 to Casuals.
No changes, Bracken was eager to start the second-half brightly and Josh Uzun was there again to cause havoc in the Grinstead ranks. Sending a corner into the area for the predator, Uzun was close to grabbing his second assist however Okojie’s attempted header bounced off his shoulder and over the bar.
The despondent Okojie had another opportunity to write his name on the scoresheet in the 55th minute when the no.9 located himself in the box, ready to pounce on Uzun’s corner. Masterfully volleying the ball into the corner of Haigh’s net, Uzun had another assist and Okojie was back to scoring ways. Celebrations from goalscorer Super Shaun was a massive grin whilst the Casuals contingent punched the air jubilantly and sang the name of the striker.
East Grinstead’s Gregory was troubling the hosts’ defence again when a darting low shot was parried away by Danny Bracken, who used his cat-like reflexes to prevent a consolation goal. Vibrating the crossbar, Wasps’ substitute Dan Hogan used his first touch to rifle a terrific effort past Bracken. The remaining opportunities were by the pink and brown shirts. Ben Cheklit’s classy drive and substitute Mu Maan’s unlucky shot were the latest to be rebuffed by Haigh, who had been remarkable. Ending the ninety minutes with the score 2-0, James Bracken’s pink and brown army won three essential points for their promotion-hunting campaign. New signing Coskun Eskim had a defining performance in the middle of the park whilst Josh Uzun and Dave Hodges produced upset on the flanks.
Man Of The Match was given to Ben Cheklit, who was tremendous on the wing.
A point behind fifth place and a game in hand, Corinthians are in a brilliant place to steal back a spot in the play-offs. A possible victory versus Chatham Town on Saturday before an arduous away journey to Guernsey next Wednesday leaves Corinth in a stable condition. Vai Corinthians!