Casuals Gain First Point Of The Season - But Could Have Had Three

Article and photo by Stuart Tree

Corinthian-Casuals earned their first Bostik Premier League point on Saturday but Manager James Bracken believes it should’ve been three points as his side drew 1-1 against Merstham.

“Should’ve been three points on the board for us,” said Bracken following the match. “I’ll take a certain amount of responsibility for it because we’ve changed things and it didn’t turn out to be a positive first half from us.

“Second half, we’ve dominated the game, had them rattled the whole half and should’ve won the match. Without a shadow of a doubt, we should’ve won that. We had two or three very good opportunities.”

Bracken was yet again having to make a last ditch signing to ease his goalkeeping injury crisis.

Brother, Captain and League keeper of the year, three years running, Danny Bracken is out with a broken leg. Replacement Mo Maan injured his back during the opening day defeat at Margate with fellow summer signing Jack Wingate also crocked. Even Casuals’ kit manager, who is also registered as a goalkeeper injured his eye in a bizarre work-related accident and cannot play. 

A new signing was due to play, but the curse struck once again as a nasty head injury required 14 stitches on Thursday. In came Bradley Comins, a player James knew from his Sutton days.

The first half was a cagey affair with both sides looking to get their first points of the season. However, on 18 minutes, the deadlock was broken when Reece Hall lofted a ball over the reach of Comins to give the visitors the lead.

Both sides rarely threatened each other’s goalmouths for the remainder of the half and Merstham probably edged the better of the limited half chances.

But it was all change at half time as Casuals looked to get back into the match. On came Danny Cunningham to add firepower up top. It was just before the hour mark when Corinth were back on level terms. A surging run down the wing saw Juevan Spencer upended by Reece Hall in the penalty area. Up stepped Cunningham to dispatch the penalty.

Casuals should’ve made it two when a wicked cross from Hakeem Adelakun evaded three oncoming attackers – Warren Mfula getting a slight touch but only out for a goal kick. Max Oldham’s set up for Mfula’s shot was expertly saved by Chris Haigh in goal.

The game opened up and Merstham looked to counter. Dan Bennett caused problems but Comins was equal to everything. The final fifteen minutes saw end-to-end action in what was more like a cup-tie where winner takes all. But it ended all square and honours even. Merstham taking the first half and Casuals the second.

Eyes turn to cup competition now as Casuals host Westfield in the Velocity Trophy on Tuesday and Croydon in the FA Cup on Saturday.