An illness-related absence robbed the side of Captain Aarran Racine, so Cam Tutt was recalled to the starting line-up. While on the bench, the only changes saw Will Seager take over Tutty’s seat and Club Skipper Darren Budd provide extra experience in place of Pat Webber, who had a watching brief.
In the team’s fourth meeting of the season, it was the visitors who attacked first with Jasper Pattenden making a good, strong run down the left wing and eventually cutting inside Jack Tucker, only for his shot to lack the power to trouble Danny Bracken in the host’s goal.
However, the response was swift and less than a minute later the travelling Blues failed to clear their lines, allowing former Red Mo Diallo to lay the ball back for Kieron Cadogan to side-foot over the top.
Play soon swung back in the guest’s favour though, when Luke Robinson broke clear on the far side and found both Callum Kealy and Ollie Pearce waiting inside the penalty area. His cross not quite falling for the former but the latter was able to turn and fire goalwards, missing the upright by the narrowest of margins.
Opportunities proved to be harder to come by after that initial surge; more than half-an-hour elapsing before Diallo opened the scoring against his former club, by seizing on a loose ball and beating ex-teammate Harrison Male at his near post. Respectfully refusing to celebrate in front of the fans who still sing his name.
Things might have got worse before they got better, as Casuals continued to enjoy the upper hand against the league leaders.
The next opening, created via a positive burst into the box by Elliott Bolton, led to the number eight setting his sights on doubling the deficit, only for him to balloon his effort over the bar.
More indecisive defending from an under the cosh visiting side led to Cadogan’s free-kick, tight to the left-hand touchline, only reaching the chocolate and pink shirt of Bobby Mills but he could do no more than drill low and wide of the front stick.
An even clearer opportunity presented itself to Olly Sitch a minute from half-time, as Ben Cheklit took advantage of some hesitancy on the part of Pattenden, to supply the centre-forward with a guilt-edged offering that he really should have done better with, when he somehow managed to volley off target from a great position.
A change of ends brought about a change of thinking by Manager Adam Hinshelwood and his staff, with recent signings Robinson and James Beresford sacrificed for Dajon Golding and Marvin Armstrong.
The rejigging having an immediate effect, thanks to Golding’s neat and incisive one-two with Kealy in the eighteen yard box, as he bore down on goal. Then, directing the ball across home Captain Bracken and into the opposite side of the net, to quickly level the score.
Undeterred, a galvanised unit retaliated through that man Mo once more, after he reached the byline to pull back for Mills to rattle the woodwork, as he saw his attempt rebound off the crossbar, followed by a frantic scramble that resulted in Pattenden being forced to head off his own goalline.
Route one then became the order of the day, with Bracken’s big boot bouncing on a single occasion and Mills forcing a scrambling Male to avert the danger at the expense of a flag-kick.
Despite looking the more likely scorers at this juncture, the next chance fell to the South Coasters, which started when Manny Mensah gifted possession straight to Armstrong.
Marvin’s fresher legs taking him away from the full-back and moving play on to fellow interval replacement Golding who, in turn, picked out the overlapping Ollie Pearce, though the in-form striker couldn’t beat Bracken at the end of a flowing right to left attack.
Around three-quarters of the way through this entertaining contest, Tutt took his opportunity to surge to the byline and pull back for Golding, only for Bracken to deny the nine with a fine save.
Into the final ten, it required a second off-the-line clearance of the afternoon, this time by the man wearing the armband, Danny Barker.
A quick corner taken by Bolton saw him exchange passes with Cadogan, prior to flighting a delightful delivery which led to Bark’s late intervention preventing the recently introduced debutant Misha Djemali from nodding in a lead-restorer.
Joel Colbran added his name to the growing list of those frustrated by the brilliance of Bracken, after the almost impregnable force kept out our right wing-back at the base of his near stick, on the end of Starkey’s deep cross.
Roles were then slightly reversed, when, with proceedings drawing ever-closer to a conclusion, Colbran supplied Kealy on the very fringes of the area but a swivel and swipe later produced merely a goal-kick.
Finally, Checklitt’s audacious attempt at catching out Male from distance met with a similar fate and the points were shared.