Article by Stuart Tree
Corinthian-Casuals continued to heap pressure on their promotion rivals with a solid 2-0 win over mid-table Horsham on a heavy pitch at King George’s.
First half goals from Jordan Clarke and Gabriel Odunaike were enough to seal three points in a performance that never saw them under any real threat from their opponents.
In fact, the biggest threat to James Bracken’s side picking up three points was the weather; volunteers worked hard all morning to ensure Casuals didn’t suffer their first postponement of the season and an early inspection was passed. However, persistent rain meant that by kickoff, some wondered if the game would last the full ninety minutes.
Horsham and Corinth had equally traded wins over the last six contests between the two sides and if the trend was to be maintained, this would be a victory for Dom Di Paola’s Hornets. It had the potential to be one of those days where the playing surface would negate any gap in the league standings and act as a 'leveller' between the teams.
As expected, conditions weren't easy for any of the players but despite this, both teams looked to take the initiative. Horsham, with the strong wind on their backs pressed hard to gain an early foothold. Casuals threatened too and Jordan Clarke was only thwarted by Joe Shelley who got a vital touch to put the striker’s chance out for a corner.
The breakthrough came in the 24th minute when Odunaike sent a cross field pass to Clarke who cut inside and unleased a 20 yard curling shot that left Josh Pelling in goal no chance. With the cameras of FIFA’s weekly TV show set behind the goal, there’s every chance that Clarke’s effort could be broadcast to 150 countries across the globe.
Ten minutes later, Odunaike added his name to the scoresheet. Max Oldham raced through and although his shot was partially-blocked by Steve Metcalf, the resulting deflection wrong-footed Pelling and Odunaike pounced to put the ball into an empty net. Horsham players protested for offside though Odunaike had been behind play after Oldham had struck his shot.
Casuals had the bit between their teeth and Jack Strange could’ve made it 3-0 but steered his header wide. Ben Cheklit’s seering run into the box was only ended by a last ditch interception at the far post. Horsham had their chances too, with Joe Shelley’s header only thwarted by the upright.
By the second half, the playing surface was cutting up badly and the rain continued to fall. Casuals, now with the wind in their favour never truly looked in trouble, despite a couple of scares. Danny Bracken saved well from substitute Alfie Rogers who struck his shot straight at the keeper.
Chances fizzled out for both Casuals and Horsham as legs clearly became as heavy as the pitch. Callum McAllister’s improvised overhead kick would’ve been spectacular had he kept it down, instead coming closer to the car park than Pelling’s goal. Cheklit probably deserved a goal of his own but Horsham’s stopper scuppered that expertly saving from a vicious drive by the midfielder from 20 yards.
Caked in mud, soaked in rain but delighted with the win, Casuals march up to 3rd in the table. Keeping another clean sheet, James Bracken’s side have now only conceded 3 goals in the last nine league matches – a feat that could help them win promotion yet.
Photo credit: Stuart Tree