Article by Cameron Smith
A goalless draw versus a resilient ten-man Hythe Town side left Corinthian-Casuals with a bittersweet aftertaste as a point and a clean sheet was weighed up against dropping to fifth place in the Bostik Division One South on a scrappy Saturday afternoon.
As the referee started proceedings, the Bracken Brothers hoped that the pacey combination of Oldham, Dillon and Odunaike would provide the edge they needed to beat the visitors whilst Callum McAllister looked to boss the midfield once again and the return of Jack Strange to the starting eleven added assurance at the back. Cagey, the first fifteen minutes brought only changes in possession, until Hythe’s Ryan Palmer fired a pinpoint yet mightily powerful shot onto the underside of the crossbar, which bounced on the line before being cleared. The blue shirts of The Cannons were up in arms when the ball bounced on the line as they felt Palmer’s effort might’ve edged over the line, but the referee continued with play.
Chances were rare for Corinth as Hythe seemed to block the hosts’ trio of attackers with ease. Just before half-time, the referee had another tough decision to make when Hythe’s Jordan Johnson-Palmer and Casuals’ Reyon Dillon were involved in a collision on the right flank in which the opposition’s no.6 engaged in a gruesome studs-up challenge that may have taken the ball, but took Dillon too. Rolling in pain on the floor, the Casuals winger was lucky not to receive any lasting damage as both sides surrounded the referee. Hythe’s blue shirts were arguing that the tackle resulted in them winning the ball, whilst Casuals players wanted Johnson-Palmer off. It was Corinthians who got their way, and deservedly as the challenge saw Hythe go down to ten, which swiftly brought the game to half-time.
A second-half that was as frustrating as the first, Casuals and Hythe were both involved in a compelling 45 minutes of football, despite the lack of goals. With no.11 Kieron Campbell keeping full-backs Walker and Daly on their toes throughout, Hythe kept their composure, professionalism and strategy within check at all times despite the disadvantage. Defending with utter urgency, they prevented Casuals on multiple occasions from scoring the opener as corners and set-pieces were guided away from the bustling penalty area. Josh Uzun’s whipped corner agonisingly avoided the pink and brown shirts in the box as well as the blue as his trademark kick flashed past everyone in one of Casuals’ best opportunities. Gabriel Odunaike slammed an one-on-one well wide of the goal in a disappointing outcome to an initially promising move with ten minutes to go. Following an inexplicable decision to not add on any extra minutes for Hythe’s time-wasting late on, the referee blew for full-time; it had ended 0-0.
Photo credit: Stuart Tree