Corinthian-Casuals are one game away from reaching the Ryman League Premier Division after a thrilling 4-3 win over Greenwich Borough in the playoff semi-final on Tuesday evening.
Corinthian-Casuals Manager James Bracken likened his side’s win to ‘A Disney Film’ after the coming from behind to win and playing with only ten men for nearly 70 minutes following Coskun Ekim’s red card.
“That game today was worthy of a Disney film,” said Bracken following the victory at Greenwich. “One of those films where everything is stacked against you and we’re the underdogs with nothing going our way. Yet somehow, we pull through.”
“I said to the lads after, you get moments in life – not just in football – where you get that tingle… that feeling that there’s something a little special here. We had an opportunity today to have one of those moments and take it. That’s exactly what they did.”
The playoff semi-final, played between Greenwich Borough, who finished the league two points ahead of Casuals began in nightmare fashion for the Amateurs. Mohamed Eisa’s shot wickedly bounced over keeper Danny Bracken after hitting a divot in the area.
Casuals were level on 18 minutes after Shaun Okojie dispatched a penalty following a foul on Mu Maan.
Just two minutes later, the task of winning became all the more tough after Coskun Ekim was harshly dismissed following a high challenge.
Despite the setback, Reyon Dillon’s drive from a narrow angle was deflected in and Casuals had the lead. They were pegged back ten minutes from half time courtesy of a brilliant Peter Sweeney free kick from 20 yards.
Although having to play the bulk of the game with one man less, Casuals took the lead again with their own set piece. Mu Maan’s free kick deflected off the wall and left former Arsenal keeper Craig Holloway stranded in the Greenwich goal.
Casuals extended their lead with fifteen minutes left via Shaun Okojie, brilliantly turning in a cross from six yards to leave the home crowd stunned.
Greenwich mounted a comeback and pulled a goal back on 83 minutes via Glenn Wilson to make it a nervy last ten minutes for the large contingent of Casuals fans who’d made the trip. However, Bracken’s side held their nerve and dramatically booked their place in the playoff final.
Casuals will face Dorking Wanderers at their Westhumble home on Saturday following a 4-3 penalty shoot out win over Hastings United.
“That was thoroughly deserved tonight,” continued Bracken. “We played over an hour with just ten men after a harsh red card was issued. The first goal was an absolute joke of a goal too.
"The bobble over Danny is a horror show and in games of this importance, you don’t want things like that play such an important part.
“At that point, you feel like things are stacking up against us. But we know the team spirit – and in the club as a whole, is massive.
“I said at half time, we can either dwell on these moments or we can come out and be nothing but heroes. No one expected anything from us at that point. No one ever does. People often overlook us.”
“We’re in the playoff final on merit. That’s not on luck. We were fantastic.
“The playoff final will be tough. You don’t expect to play mugs. We’ll be up against a good side.
"But we’re a good side too and we’ve just shown against a very good team that even with ten men, we’re a threat. We’re resolute, we don’t concede many chances and we take our own.
“On the form we’re on, you probably wouldn’t want to play us.
“Now, we have to finish this job off. We’re not here to be finalists… we’re here to be winners and to end up in the Ryman Premier.”