RYMAN DIVISION ONE SOUTH
Wed 19th March 2014
by David Harrison
Casuals return to winning ways came with a fighting performance at Worthing that banished the frustrations of three recent defeats and finally moved the club out of the relegation zone. For the evening trip to the south coast manager Matt Howard was forced to make a number of changes. The ever dependable Danny Green came in at right back with Tom Williams switching to the left and forming the back line with Danny Dudley and Joe Hicks. In midfield, newcomer Michael Fahm, recently joined from Redhill , partnered Ellis Wilson-Joseph with Saheed Sankoh, recently returned from a spell with Harrow and Dave Hodges adding his strength on the left.
Worthing began powerfully and soon had the visitors in trouble. Keeper Danny Bracken was forced to make a double save when he fumbled a first shot then brilliantly pushed aside the follow-up. Moments later Bracken was in action again with another fine save from Worthing's George Gaskin. At the other end Joel Thompson was through but was dispossessed before he could get in a shot. Then Fahm, showing pace and control, cut in from the right to present Thompson with a potential opening. But again the striker was blocked by the fast tackling Worthing defence. In between Bracken kept Casuals in the game with another fine save.
Ten minutes before halftime came the breakthrough. Jamie Byatt put Hodges away to shoot powerfully as he approached the box. Keeper Jack Fagan could only parry the ball which bounced back to the advancing Byatt who fired home for his 23rd goal of the season.
In the second half Worthing tried all they knew but Casuals defended for their lives - with Dudley and Hicks ever present, Green as cool as ever under pressure, Williams enjoying his new role at left back and Sankoh adding strength and experience whenever required. Fahm made a couple of runs to relieve the pressure and created Casuals' best chances while Byatt never stopped harrying defenders who dwelt on the ball. But with ten minutes to go a penetrating move from Worthing saw Gaskin through again on goal and real danger. Only an acrobatic tip-over the bar by Bracken saved the day; the points were secure.
It was Casuals' first double of the season, having beaten Worthing by the same score on the first day of the season and a real credit to the whole side. Manager Matt Howard summed it up: "We kept our shape and we kept our heads". And the reward - to escape from the bottom three relegation places for the first time in 2014.
Team: D.Bracken; D.Green, T.Williams, D.Dudley, J.Hicks (C); E.Wilson-Joseph, M.Falm (J.Spencer 78'), S.Sanko, J.Byatt, J.Thompson (S.Barilli 82'), D.Hodges.
Subs not used: M.Quiassaca, D.Llacer