A dominant second-half performance couldn’t salvage a draw for ten-men Stags as they fell 3-2 at VCD Athletic on Tuesday night.
Second-half strikes from Luke Holness and Jack Battie almost sparked a comeback even with the dismissal of Alex Kelly, but the hosts held out for all three points as the Casuals dropped their first points of the season.
The action began immediately with Denzel Gerrar was forced into a fine save early in his 50th appearance, but the goalkeeper was unable to prevent Kemo Darboe from slotting an opener in the 9th minute.
Walton appeared to have issued an immediate response, and a drilled effort from Josh Kelly beat Joe Mant and glided off the post into the back of the net. However, the goal was ruled out with another player deemed offside, to the bemusement of travelling supporters.
In a fast-paced game, VCD doubled their lead inside 17 minutes with a tenacious 25-yard strike Aymun El-Moyhalbel that gave Gerrar little chance.
Luke Holness soon saw a shot deflected, while Max Fitzgerald’s looping header and a chance from Alfie Taylor also came close. VCD struggled to cause many problems for the remainder of the first half, and forced the Stags into a stop-start game with several fouls.
With two goals to his name already this season, Holness had enjoyed quick starts with both goals coming three minutes of the game. And in typical fashion, it took the attacking midfielder just two minutes after the restart to claw one back with a fine finish.
The Stags looked impressive throughout the half, and dominated play against a defensive VCD Athletic. Josh Kelly came close on several occasions, while the introduction of Michael Phillip-Ogbuogu also looked to cause some issues for the Vickers.
However, the introduction of Rashid Kamara from the bench proved to a pivotal decision for manager Keith McMahon. With his first touch of the ball, Kamara found the goal from 20 yards to extend the lead with their only real effort of the half.
As the visitors continued to press, a late challenge from midfielder Alex Kelly in an attacking position saw a straight red issued by the referee – a further blow to the hopes of a comeback.
A resilient push for another goal, and the addition of four minutes, allowed Battie to add his first goal in Casuals colours – and it could be the best he ever scores for the club. The right-back found himself in an attacking position and made full use of a looping volley over the head of Mant and into the top corner from outside the box.
It was too little, too late for the Stags though, and the 100% league record finally came to an end with the first Bostik South Division encounter of the month.
There is plenty to look forward to for Walton Casuals nonetheless, with the opening of the Elmbridge Sports Hub taking place on Saturday 9 September.
VCD Athletic: Joe Mant, George Lutaaya, Omar Lawson, Junior Baker, Jeffrey Imudia, Ricardo Joseph, Siao Blackwood, Derek Duncan (Alastair Gordon 75), Kemo Darboe, Steven Carvell (Kamarl Duncan 81), Aymun El-Moyhalbel (Rashid Kamara 68).
Subs Not Used: Marc Gorbell, Emmanuel Osei
Goals: Kemo Darboe (9), Aymun El-Moyhalbel (17), Rashid Kamara (70)
Walton Casuals: Denzel Gerrar, Jack Battie, Samuel Labinjo, Alex Kelly, Max Fitzgerald, Joe Hicks, Alfie Taylor (Michael Phillip-Ogbuogu 76), Daryl Coleman, Josh Kelly, Lartey Sarpong, Luke Holness.
Subs Not Used: Evander Lopes, Max Hustwick, Stuart Baldwin, Sean McCormack
Goals: Luke Holness (47), Jack Battie (90)