Corinthian-Casuals suffered a set-back in their promotion bid from the Bostik League South succumbing to a 1-0 defeat against fellow contenders Cray Wanderers.

A 10th minute Junior Dadson goal was enough to separate the sides condemning Casuals to their first defeat in nine games. Their cause wasn’t helped when striker Gabriel Odunaike was dismissed following an off-the-ball incident.

Cray pounced on 10 minutes. A quick break down the left channel saw Charlie Macdonald cross into the box where Dadson was on hand to volley home.

Casuals rarely troubled Nick Blue in the Cray goal though Harry Ottaway had a claim for a penalty turned down following what appeared to be a push in the box. Cray could certainly feel aggrieved that they also weren’t awarded a spot kick when Dadson looked to have been felled by Jack Strange.

Corinth’s approach to the second half was in stark contrast to the insipid display in the first. Though it took a controversial catalyst to get them going. With play up the other end of the field, Gabriel Odunaike and Jay Leader were involved in an off the ball altercation. After lengthy discussions, the match officials dismissed the striker from the field of play.

Despite being down to ten-men, Casuals pressed forward in search of an equaliser. However, the Cray defence stood steadfast and earned their three points. Wanderers are the only side to have done the double over Corinthian-Casuals this season.

“I don’t feel hard done by with regards to the result,” said James Bracken following the result. “I thought we were terrible in the first half. We didn’t do any of the things I said we had to.

“When you play Cray, along with the other top sides in this division, there are certain things you have to get right. When you play the lesser sides, there are some things you should do but if you don’t, you’ll probably get away with it and still get a win. We’ve done that on a few occasions within this run of eight wins.

“Today, there were very clear instructions on what we had to do, both individually and collectively to stop Cray doing what they’re good at and put them on the back foot.

“We’ve done that in the second half with ten men. It’s just deeply frustrating that it took a sending off and a stern lecture at half time to get a reaction. I asked them ‘where’s your mentality?’ You get into a tough game, you’ve got to show the right attitude and show that you can compete against the teams around us at the top of the division. That’s where we are, on merit, so that’s the level we need to achieve in order to compete.

“First half we let ourselves down. Second half I thought we were fantastic. After the sending off, I thought we only got better. You come away from it disappointed that we lost 1-0 but I can’t say anything negative about the performance in the second half and ultimately the character that the boys showed.

“We dust ourselves down, build on what we did in the second half and go again.

“Losing Gabby (Odunaike) for the next few games is a massive blow. He’s been an ever-present in the starting line-up. His goals, especially recently have been important and he brings a lot of energy and quality to the mix. He’ll be missed.

Speaking of the red-card incident involving Gabriel Odunaike, Bracken said, “I’ve honestly not seen it because the play is breaking at the other end of the pitch. I don’t believe the linesman has seen it either because he’d be looking down his channel looking for throw-ins as the ball is running along the touchline in the opposite half. Then we both look across and see a player down.

"To be honest, I’ve seen that player down every time we’ve played them. He holds his face a lot. Never seems to show signs of injury but seems to be on the floor a lot… likewise today. Between the officials, they’ve managed to contrive that Gabby has done something to warrant a red card.

“We’ll take the positives in the reaction we’ll get from this loss. In the season run-in, out of 15 games, we could have won 14 of those, drawn on the last day of the season, missed out on automatic promotion and head into the playoffs on a downer.

"Instead, we have the kick up the backside now and respond. If that makes us go on and win the next six and seals an automatic promotion place, then this result today is a catalyst – and thus a positive that we can look back upon - taking that spirit and character shown in the second half.

“It’s easy for me to say it, but now we have to deliver and I’m always confident that’s what we’ll do.”

Casuals host Guernsey on Saturday before a short trip to Walton Casuals on Easter Monday.