Tough Opening Day For Casuals

Article by Cameron Smith

Opening their Bostik Premier Division season on a disappointing yet ever-optimistic note, Corinthian-Casuals conceded five goals in the first-half versus Margate, but netted two second half consolations in a 5-2 defeat away from home.

Four new players joined (or re-joined) the Corinth contingent for the first match. Mo Maan, who is the brother of Casuals’ Mu Maan, covered the healing Danny Bracken in goal, former-Phoenix Sports winger Gil Carvalho shifted into no.7, Warren Mfula started upfront and Juevan Spencer returned to left-back after a year hiatus! New campaign, new players and a new kit for Corinthians; the chocolate and pink half-and-half was pimped with a new sponsor in the centre of the shirt… BT Sport! Bracken, Pringle, Williams and now Jamie Byatt took their places on the managerial bench before locking horns with the blue of the Gate.

The starting ten minutes proved bright for the visitors as wingers Carvalho and Oldham created problems for the hosts’ full-backs and forced a few set-pieces that ultimately came to nothing. So when Baselle Aristride nicked the opener for Margate in the 11th minute, it was a shame to see the better side down a goal.

Five-hundred and ten in attendance with the majority celebrating for the blues, a group of resilient away fans behind the goal kept the faith. This faith, however, was tested even further when Gate’s second attack resulted in a second goal - no.6 Wynter tapped in from close range.

All hard-work established in the first ten was undone from then on as the efficient home team took advantaged of a shaky back-four and injured goalkeeper to grab a third, fourth and fifth all before half-time. Alex Brown’s screamer from 25 yards left Mo Maan with no chance and Brown notched another one minutes later from a similar vantage.

Frannie Collin hit a free-kick in stoppage time and following an unfortunate deflection, resulted in five goals in the first 45 minutes for the jubilant Margate.

Five minutes after the referee started the second half, Casuals seemed to place the first-half thrashing aside in an attempt to regain some pride. Max Oldham’s side-footed finish did fly safely over the bar, but the build-up from the pink & brown’s strong midfield was their best passage of play so far. A simply sensational run from Gate’s Bernard nearly made it six, but his shot fizzled out for a corner.

Whilst Mo, suffering with his back was not having the ideal Casuals competitive debut, brother Mu entered the fray in the 58th minute. Edging towards the final twenty and Bracken’s eleven ever pushing for at least one goal to bring home, newbie Mfula was tripped in the penalty area during an attack in which the referee pointed to the spot. Mfula won the penalty, so he took it, though haplessly booting the ball over the bar.

However, he then composed himself in the 69th minute and forgot the 12-yard blunder to coolly slot home after Margate’s keeper Newcombe failed to properly distribute the goal-kick. Enjoyable to finally see the net ripple in the Casuals end, Mfula’s strike put Casuals 5-1 down overall… but 1-0 up in the second-half!

Despite a solid Morgan effort and Antonio’s quick feet around the opposition defence, it wasn’t until the 88th minute when a second goal was achieved. Whipped into the compact six yard box, Callum McAllister’s corner was met by centre-back Strange before debutant Carvalho scored his first Casuals goal by forcing it past the baffled keeper.

Blowing for full-time before a rightful third was added, the referee halted proceedings with the score at 5-2. James Bracken’s pink and brown army may have lost 5-2, but showed real character to monumentally improve on a dreary first-half performance. We wish Margate the best of the luck for the rest of the season. Folkestone Invicta arrived to King George’s for the league’s first home game on Tuesday before Casuals hosted another on Saturday- against Merstham.

Photo credit: Stuart Tree