Scott Rees - back from suspension
HUNGERFORD will be fully prepared for their first visit to Corinthian Casuals in more than 30 years when the teams meet in Saturday’s FA Trophy First Round tie.
Manager Bob by Wilkinson has foregone usual preparation twice having Casuals watched, and the reports have been impressive.
“We know we are in for a really tough game,” he said.
“They are organised, good up front and have some talented players.”They are a good side and a dangerous side, and we are treating them with every respect, are doing our homework and are treating them very seriously.
“I don’t know their manager, but I know I respect what he has achieved so far in beating two teams from the league above,” he added.
“I don’t even look at their league position and think we should beat them. We have to turn up and work hard for it if we want to go through.
Wilkinson will have practically a full-strength squad available, with only Ian Herring missing out through suspension but Scott Rees returning after his one-match ban and Garyn Preen and Diak John available.
Gentlemanly penalty misses or not, the nomadic Casuals - actually formed from a merger of that club with Corinthians in the 1930s - were chucked out of the Isthmian League in 1984 for the heinous crime of ‘ground sharing,’ presumably because they got there earlier than most.
That season was also one of their best in a while, although they lost 2-0 at home to Hungerford, who finished a place below them in the then Division Two table.
Four years later, they moved to their own home at Tolworth, bouncing back to the Isthmian League and eventually into a revamped Division One, missing Hungerford, whose own ground issues helped to send them into the league’s third tier.
They have remained ever since, now holding down a One South spot but still proclaim the amateur principals, citing: “No budget, no money and no expenses.”
They have still put together a side good enough to beat two higher rated teams on this season’s Trophy trail, Premier Division Grays the latest in last week’s replay.
Manager James Bracken joined Casuals after steering Sutton United’s reserves to the Suburban League A Division crown, and he has put together a cosmopolitan squad led by top scorer Juevan Spencer - who netted the winner against Grays - and co=striker Emmanuel Akokhia, who had stints at Bolton, Crystal Palace and AFC Wimbledon.
They also have the ‘other’ Diego Maradona on the books and in Bracken, they have a manager rated as “the best manager in the league and the league above, and the league above that,” according to his brother Danny, who should be in goal on Saturday after that!