An eventful first-half that included Shaun Okojie’s first goal since his return and a Danny Bracken penalty save was not enough for Corinthian-Casuals, who were defeated 3-1 by Enfield Town - writes Cameron Smith.

The opening twenty minutes’ main opportunities were distributed between the two sides, mostly dominated by the pink and brown however. Bakare, Okojie, Pinney and Serbony as an attacking force threatened the white shirts early on and emulated the attacking football from the previous week with half-chances and good passing. But as the Bracken Brothers know, football is cruel. Particularly when Billy Bricknell hit a twenty yard effort in the centre of the goal, but managed to evade the palms of Danny Bracken, who either saw it too late or was thrown off by a deflection.

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Unable to break the defence proved costly when Muhammadu Faal netted the second after Blackman’s long ball in a baffling moment for the Casuals back four. But, Okojie was on hand to start a potential comeback as the no.9 scored to make it 2-1 after thirty-two minutes. Bakare’s pace and intelligence to burst onto the fearful Enfield through the middle was vital for Okojie to smartly peel away from a defender and offer himself up on the left hand side. The counter attack was fluent as the striker took a single touch before simply slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Nathan McDonald was forced into another fine stop shortly after, to prevent Casuals equalising.

Edging towards half-time, centre-back Robert Jamison lunged into an unnecessary challenge in the Enfield area, which caused the referee to point to the spot. Having already tipped an effort onto the bar previously in the half, Bracken confidently guessed Bricknell’s penalty and superbly saved his spot-kick.

Unfortunately, the second-half never matched the energy of the first. Half-chances and set-piece opportunities occurred for the away side, with Bakare’s insane run after good work from Pinney nearly causing an own goal for Enfield and an equaliser for Casuals. The following corner was over-hit by Ekim, and started an attack for the Town, who managed to capitalise as Hatton’s chipped pass set up Faal to lob Bracken. From then on, it was mediocrity from both sides with Bracken avoiding the embarrassment of a fourth goal with a solid save late on. Overall, it was a frustrating afternoon for Casuals who recorded their fifth loss of the season against a strong Enfield team - it was 3-1 at full-time.

“We’re always disappointed when we don’t win,” said James Bracken after the final whistle. “With our limited resources and what we have, there is such a thing as a good draw, which we’ve had a couple but we can never be happy with a loss.

“There’s been moments in all our games this season where we’ve been within a shout. Even today, in the first ten minutes we had two key moments which if we got right, we’re two-nil up and playing well.

“We’ve had other moments. We came back into it at 2-1 and had periods where we were in the ascendency. But the biggest disappointment was the last twenty minutes, where it petered out. The first goal after half time was always going to be massive and it went their way. You go 3-1 down here on a hot day, against a decent side – we had a mountain to climb.

“That said, the last twenty minutes from us isn’t good enough. I’ll back our players all the time, if they get out there and fight for the shirt. Today, either they quit trying or they weren’t fit enough. We allowed Enfield far too much time on the ball. They were able to get into dangerous positions under no pressure. That can’t happen. We do need to take stock that Enfield are a good side. They beat Bishop’s Stortford 5-0 recently and they’ll finish in the top four.

“We didn’t have enough ‘attitude’ about us throughout the match. The only one that comes out with credit in the last 20 minutes is Ollie Sitch. It looked like he gave a damn about winning the ball back.

“I truly believe we should have around 8 points by now. That would be a fair reflection on the first six games. Not today – we didn’t do enough to get anything. But 7-8 points would be around our ability level. When you look at the table and see Merstham have 10 points, I’m telling you now, we’re a better side than them. But they’ve gone away and won 4-0 today so we must look at what we’re doing and make sure we start getting some points of our own.

“But it’s that cumulative effect of game on game. We’re only human and it’s tough. The boys will have to show fight. If they don’t, then it’ll be time for changes. But we’ll go again next week against Chelmsford City, though that’s no easy game for sure! However, you wouldn’t put it past us to cause an upset. We’re capable. Another day, we could’ve scored three or four here at Enfield. Sharpen up a little and we’ll be close.”

Casuals host National League South side Chelmsford City in the FA Cup on Saturday.