Article by Stuart Tree
Corinthian-Casuals continued their perfect start to 2018 with a resounding 4-1 win away at Herne Bay on Saturday, all but wrapping up the game within the first half hour.
An own-goal courtesy of Jonathan Richardson started the proceedings and was swiftly followed by a close range strike from Gabriel Odunaike and an audacious header from Josh Uzun. Despite Bay pulling a goal back in the second half, Hamilton Antonio sealed the three points when he rounded keeper Benjamin Hunter and slot into an empty net.
James Bracken’s side were out to avenge disparaging comments courtesy of the hosts in their match preview, insinuating that Casuals were a dirty side – with factual inaccuracies to boot. Though no encouragement is needed to pep up the team, it was one gratefully received by the manager to get across the importance of the win.
Casuals travelled without Harry Ottaway, the late scorer in the 1-0 win over promotion rivals Walton Casuals on New Year’s Day but otherwise had a relatively unchanged side, with Reyon Dillon taking Ottaway’s place. Bay, vastly changed from last season under the departed Sam Denly sat 15th in the table, unlikely to threaten either playoffs or relegation.
Bay started brightly, pushing Casuals onto the back foot but it was the visitors who struck first, though with more than a helping hand from Bay’s captain Jonathan Richardson. With quarter of an hour gone, Max Oldham squared the ball to an unmarked Dillon hovering over the penalty spot. The striker’s shot rebounded off the post and careened off the incoming defender’s boot, lashing into the back of the net.
Two minutes later and it was 2-0. Bay’s defence were in disarray when the ball was played over to a waiting Odunaike at the far post who couldn’t miss, bundling the ball home to the sound of ecstatically-vocal away supporters.
Casuals tasted victory and pushed to kill the contest early. Max Oldham’s reaction to his blazing miss over the bar probably told all that he should’ve buried the chance. But Casuals were able to make it three on the half-hour mark. Josh Uzun’s improvised header impressively lobbed the 6’7” keeper and dipped perfectly under the stanchion to practically seal the deal.
Re-emerging in the second half, Casuals looked to have taken their foot off the gas too much and invited unwanted pressure, not seen in the first period. Danny Leonard stretched the defence from wide positions and his cross found Nassim Dukali who neatly finished past a stranded Danny Bracken to give hope to the home side. The goal stirred Casuals into action once again and Max Oldham saw his penetrating run and shot only find the side netting.
It could’ve – make that ‘should’ve’ been over minutes later. A perfectly weighted through ball was made with Dillon looking like the recipient, though breaking through the pack was Uzun, who found himself completely free with only the keeper to beat. Perhaps with too much time to think about what to do, Uzun chose the wrong option and blazed the ball over the bar. It felt like a pivotal moment in the match.
Thankfully, Casuals didn’t pay for the miss as substitute Hamilton Antonio this time burst through the defence beating Hunter to the ball and calmly slotting home into an unguarded net to the relief of the Casuals following. They looked to increase their goal difference tally with Malachi Robinson testing Hunter in the dying moments.
Photo credit: Stuart Tree