Article by Cameron Smith
The resilient Corinthian-Casuals came out of Saturday’s feisty clash with mid-table side Sittingbourne as deserved winners thanks to a 3-1 victory at the windy King George’s Field, which boosted James Bracken’s pink & brown team to second in the Bostik League South table.
Before kickoff, players, officials and supporters observed a minute's applause for two great Corinthians who have recently left us; former player and Chairman Geoff Hewitson and Hubert Doggart OBE - also a great cricketer.
Seven minutes into the game, Josh Uzun popped up at the near post to guide the ball into the back of the net as Casuals put the disappointing yet highly respectable performance at Billericay Town on Monday behind them to go 1-0 up early on. Uzun was amongst a defensive disaster for Sittingbourne; the goal was taken from Corinth’s no.7 and awarded to the hapless Lex Allen of the Bourne as an own goal due to a deflection off the centre-back. However, a goal was a goal- it was 1-0. Attacking with vigour and purpose that both mirrored and differed from the Billericay loss, Casuals were quick, exciting and ready for the challenge, but also faced a lower intensity, so it was a different type of prowess upfront. The away side seemed to falter in the offensive department until the 26th minute in which the vocal Bourne supporters that were stood behind the goal were able to cheer when Mobolaji Dawodu tucked a through ball away.
It was a blow for the Casuals after a seemingly-organised and attacking performance, but this positive mind-set drilled into their heads by the Bracken Brothers would allow them to regain the lead just three minutes later. Gabriel Odunaike was on the lookout for another goal to add to his tally following his opener at Billericay as he latched onto a superb Uzun pass to knock the ball past the intimidating Bourne keeper Otuyo- Casuals were 2-1 up, but would it last this time?
Tackles flying in from everywhere, Jordan Clarke, Odunaike and Uzun all faced tough challenges from the yellows as the referee seemed to lose control of his consistency and card distribution at the end of the first half. It finished 2-1 at the break.
Booked during the first 45, Serbony was replaced by Ben Cheklit for a straight swap in the midfield. Hoping to close the precarious one goal gap in the scoreline, the pink and brown army marched onto the search for a third goal, but were unsuccessful for a long and agonising period. Unfairly given yellow cards, Clarke and Daly were written up by the referee before one of them managed to achieve Bracken’s aim. Sixty-seven minutes in, Clarke was prodding the ball towards goal as usual, but this time his trademark set of step-overs allowed him to avoid yellow shirts and hit an effort that flew into the bottom corner from outside the area. The key was accuracy for Clarke, who had been unfortunate to not have converted earlier on, as his pinpoint shot gave Casuals the comfort of a two goal lead for the first time.
Drama arrived late on as a wonderful move and a wonderful goal was cruelly disallowed. Behind the goals, Casuals supporters were in disbelief over the incredible nature of Warren Morgan’s would’ve-been wonder goal. Pacing through on goal, Odunaike played a one-two with the oncoming Morgan before executing an exquisite backheel to nutmeg a Sittingbourne player to play in the rushing right-back again. Curling the ball into the top corner, Morgan was set to go crazy before he spotted the offside flag on the sideline and was in disbelief over the decision that announced Odunaike as the one who was off. The remainder of the match featured of failed outcomes to set-pieces and a mass scuffle in the area that somehow involved the referee to only book Jide Okimeji for a shocking tackle on Frazer Walker. When the three blows on the referee’s whistle occurred, it was finally time for Casuals to relax as the 3 points were secured.
Photo credit: Stuart Tree