Article by Cameron Smith
Corinthian-Casuals left it all too late in a crucial Bostik Division One South encounter at Whyteleafe FC as an inspired comeback wasn’t enough to salvage a point following the hosts’ two first-half strikes.
On a drizzly Saturday afternoon, the third meeting of the 17/18 season was underway. Twenty-five minutes into the match, Casuals and Leafe had battled hard, with the hosts the ones creating more of the chances and retaining most of the possession. Silky exchanges before a superb flashing cross, Tommy Hutchings bundled home a well-timed and well-executed assist from the left flank to edge Whyteleafe into a 1-0 lead.
Keeper and captain Danny Bracken hastily grabbed the ball from the net and urged his team to step their game up a notch, whilst the travelling support continued voicing their encouragement. Despite cheers from the away end, no real change occurred, as Leafe threatened via their speedy wingers once more. Their inevitable second goal, however, wasn’t from the wings, it was from 30 yards out. Hutchings was gifted the ball by a mistake in the midfield before a stroke of pure luck saw the no.10 smash a powerful effort towards goal that took an agonising deflection off a Casuals defender and ended up bouncing over Bracken and in. It was a cringe-worthy moment for the visitors, who were dealt an unfortunate blow in the 34th minute as Whyteleafe notched their second.
Just before the referee blew the whistle for half-time, super striker Harry Ottaway used his instincts to intercept a backpass and aimed for the goal, but Leafe no.1 Kyle Merson was there to save it. At the break, Gabriel Odunaike and Hamilton Antonio entered the fray ahead of Uzun and Oldham. Same support, different ends from the Casuals contingent as the Tolworth side had improved considerably in the second-half. Although the final touch of class did not seem to appear, opportunities via headers from Ottaway and Terry Murray left Corinth on the verge of pulling a goal back. It was only until the 82nd minute in which they finally did. Odunaike was given a difficult, bouncing through ball to work with when clean in on goal, but a glorious touch was the perfect height to beat the keeper and Casuals were given an injection of hope.
Eight minutes flew by with the hosts resorting to extra-long set-pieces, goal-kicks and substitutions in order to run down the clock, but it didn’t stop Corinth from making chances. A perfect free-kick hit straight down the middle of the pitch was headed forward by Ottaway in the 90th minute, and the cheeky knock-on was met by Nathan Daly’s looping header that dribbled into the net. Celebrations lasted for around five seconds before the pink & brown army realised the linesman’s flag was raised on the right flank. Jubilation turned to anger very quickly as everyone on and off the pitch were in shock at the inexplicable decision to rule out the goal due to offside- Daly had seemingly been yards ahead of the last defender! The decision stood, and Casuals played out four minutes of added time before the referee concluded proceedings. Whyteleafe were triumphant in a 2-1 victory.
The loss left Casuals just inside the play-offs in 6th place whilst first-placed Lewes beat second-placed Cray Wanderers to stay at the top of the table. Another frustrating fixture in the Bostik South will hopefully be erased from Corinthian-Casuals’ memory next week; mid-table Faversham Town make the trip to South London on Saturday.
Photo credit: Paul Downs