Article and photo by Stuart Tree
Corinthian-Casuals’ Manager James Bracken conceded making the top two automatic promotion spots following a 3-1 loss to League Leaders Lewes at King George’s Arena on Saturday.
Two goals in the first fifteen minutes essentially wrapped up the tie despite a brief comeback in the second half when Josh Uzun scored from the spot. However, five minutes later, an own goal settled the tie.
Casuals came into the match without their captain and three-times goalkeeper of the month Danny Bracken after sustaining a fibula fracture at Walton Casuals on Monday. In stepped experienced veteran Gareth Williams, who had already notched up over 120 appearances for Corinth some fifteen years ago. Williams, who began his career at Casuals hadn’t played a competitive match since retiring two years ago yet performed like he’d only played last week. The home side were also without Harry Ottaway (unavailable), Coskun Ekim (injured), Gabriel Odunaike (suspended) whilst Jordan Clarke was dropped to the bench suffering from illness. At the other end,
Lewes were without their regular keeper who was absent on leave, though otherwise named a strong line-up.
Within the first ten minutes, Casuals’ task of needing three points was made harder when poor defending let Frankie Chappell head freely direct from a corner kick.
Gareth Williams had to be alert at the other end expertly tipping over an attempted lob by Leon Redwood to keep Lewes within reach. But it was almost a repeat performance from the resulting corner just minutes later when Lloyd Cotton gained bags of space to volley home Lewes’ second. Casuals were in disarray at the back and potentially could’ve collapsed.
However, the home side composed themselves and began to play themselves back into the match. Mu Maan tested Max Huxter in goal with a fizzing shot. Max Oldham produced a fierce cross only to evade all on-coming Casuals’ attackers. Terry Murray on his 100th appearance also fired a long range effort that narrowly passed the crossbar. At the opposite end, Jonte Smith broke free but was expertly denied by the experienced Williams.
A further addition to Casuals’ growing list of injuries came in the form of Ben Cheklit, only just returning to first XI action after a layoff. Clarke called into action earlier than it would’ve been liked.
Within moments of the second half commencing, Lewes could’ve added a third, when Bouwe Bosma delicately lobbed Williams only for the post to deny the Rooks. Casuals’ stopper also prevented Jamie Brotherton with another fine stop. Perhaps a turning point? It could’ve seen that way when Josh Uzun was felled in Lewes’ penalty area. Ever reliable from 12 yards, Uzun dispatched the resulting spot kick to give Casuals hope of a comeback.
It was short-lived; Five minutes later, from another set piece, the ball came to Leon Redwood who looked to cross into the box, saw his effort headed over Williams for an unfortunate own-goal.
It looked to have deflated Casuals and the league leaders were able to comfortably see out the remaining minutes with ease to keep their grip on top spot.