Potters Bar Town 2-2 Corinthian-Casuals
Bostik League Premier Division
Saturday 20th April 2019
Report: Cameron Smith.
Pics: Stuart Tree
When the full-time whistle blew at the Parkfield Stadium, it was finally confirmed that Corinthian-Casuals would be playing Bostik Premier football for another year after a tiring but valuable 2-2 draw versus Potters Bar Town, who also secured safety as points were shared.
Comfortable was not a word that the Casuals contingent were used to when it described a Bostik Premier match, especially in 2019. A series of draws and losses in February and March put Corinthians in a sticky situation as they were dragged into a restless race for survival in the bottom half of the table. But recent victories and spirited performances were summarised in Majed Osman’s decisive third versus Wingate and Finchley in the 3-1 win, which was actually comfortable for the pink and brown army.
Only one point was needed to secure safety for the Casuals as supporters, players and staff made their way to the penultimate away day of the season; the small town of Potters Bar was the destination. The Hertfordshire outfit required a single point just like their visitors and on a beautiful summer day, it would be intriguing how both teams approached the unorthodox circumstances.
It was clear how James Bracken would approach it. Dillon, Aghadiuno and centre-back Robert Jamison were on in a new-look starting eleven. Intensity was key, and maybe Potters Bar were trying to adjust to the heat, or the hungry Casuals frontline chasing down loose balls and putting them under pressure. An Ekim free-kick was swung in after only two minutes, and Jack Rudoni managed to retrieve it from the nervy Bar defence. The no.8 threaded a cheeky but perfect pass to Reyon Dillon, who completely bamboozled the keeper with a step-over before feigning a shot and rounding him with ease. Dispatching brilliantly, Dillon had netted one of the earliest Casuals goals of the entire season as well as putting them 1-0 up. The well-taken strike was credit to Dillon’s determination to get back into the side as Bracken gave him a chance up-front ahead of the injured Mfula.
The pitch at the Parkfield Stadium was something that was noticed by the visitors beforehand as it was bobbly, dry and overlong. It did not affect Casuals though. A wayward back-pass caused the Bar keeper to run out and rescue it from becoming a corner, but he mis-controlled after a bump in the ground and it was another set-piece for Casuals. Ekim’s corner kick was not collected or cleared properly as the ball bounced off a player’s head and rippled the net. Jack Strange wheeled away in celebration and it was given to the centre-back. Singing the no.4’s name, the Casuals supporters enjoyed a two goal lead after eight minutes! Enjoying the rest of the half in the sunshine, the travelling supporters had a right to feel confident about the second-half… but little did the home support know, they did too.
Two quick-fire goals in the first half benefited the Casuals, but it was their downfall in the second. Dernell Wynter made a sharp turn just outside the area after three minutes, and slotted the ball home. A bobble was what caught Danny Bracken out and the pitch was used for the hosts’ advantage at last.
Bracken scooping the ball from the net would occur again minutes later, but it would be much crueller. An enormous deflection from a Bradley Sach shot meant it was 2-2. At the moment, both sides were staying up… but it would not be satisfactory for James and Dan Pringle on the bench. The energy of Jack Tucker and the danger of Jamie Byatt were inspired substitutions that nearly resulted in a late winner. Antonio and Rudoni in midfield was scary for Potters Bar and when they assisted in giving Jamie Byatt a great chance at goal, it was nearly ecstasy for supporters behind the goal. His shot was blocked and then cleared. It just wasn’t to be for either side. That was fine for both teams as the referee blew for full-time. Safety? Secured.
Thank you to Potters Bar for their hospitality. Two games remain in the Bostik Premier, which was a sad realisation for many fans… what will everyone do in two months of no football? (There's always Budapest, and we'll have news of more 'away' games soon - Ed.) The last home game versus Worthing on Bank Holiday Monday and then the finale at Whitehawk will end the campaign. At the moment, Casuals sit in 17th and are one place above Kingstonian. Six points in the last two games would be the dream for Bracken’s army, and to finish above their rivals would be very sweet indeed.
Manager James Bracken spoke his thoughts after the final whistle.
“They’re delighted with a point and we’re disappointed. It’s secured safety for both of us so we should be saying, “well done, great job” considering it’s well documented that we’re working with nothing.
“But we’re winners; we don’t come to get a draw – we come to win. We’re disappointed with the draw. We’ll analyse the performance for us to continue to get better.
“We had ten unavailable today. But we still put in a performance that even until the final whistle, we looked the more likely to nick the winner. When they came back to 2-2, sometimes you can be on the back-foot for the remainder of the game but it was never like that here. I can’t recall them threatening the goal again and we had chances.
“The bigger picture is, it’s a fantastic achievement. That puts us on 46 points. Tooting were relegated on 36 points from more games, so we’ve already got more than 10 points than that and they were promoted as Champions, working with a playing budget. It’s more than an achievement to do this. It should’ve been a lot more but it’s a decent haul.
“We’ll look back over the season at games like today where it was two points dropped. The game against them at our place was three points dropped. If we want to kick on and be successful beyond this, you must see those games out.
“We had a game plan in the first half which was ultra-effective. We limited them to a couple of scuffed shots from thirty yards on a cow field.
Updated 20:19 - 21 Apr 2019 by Jeff Barnes
“Second half, the game plan was simple, but instructions weren’t followed. I’ve managed over a thousand games – you play with plenty of freedom here, but when I give instructions to mark, drop-in ten yards, etc, it’s best just to listen. If they do, we’ll win more games. Today, that cost us.”