Corinthian-Casuals Manager James Bracken believes its all about character if his side are to turn their fortunes around following a fourth consecutive defeat.

The 2-1 defeat at promotion-chasing Merstham sees Casuals looking over their shoulders, just nine points above the relegation places.

“It’s about character now,” said Bracken.

“When you’re winning you get in the mindset to keep it going.

“But we’re a long way from that. We’re in character stage now. We need people to roll up their sleeves because we haven’t won in four. The season’s wrapping up and the teams below us have all got to play each other, so someone’s going to be picking up points. We need to get out on that pitch and battle and grind out some wins. Do I know which boys I’ll rely on for that? Of course I do.

Casuals, without strikers Gabriel Odunaike and Max Oldham as well as midfielder Mu Maan, started the brighter of the two sides but found themselves a goal down, failing to clear their lines allowing Simon Cooper to fire home.

The Tolworth-outfit were dealt another blow just after half time when Merstham doubled their lead. A slip by defender Reece Hannigan allowed the Moatsiders to break, and whilst Danny Bracken kept them at bay, Casuals again couldn’t clear the danger and Gus Sow was on hand to see his parried shot dribble over the line.

Corinth rallied in the final stages and a header from top-scorer Warren Mfula gave them hope. Despite sustained pressure, Merstham held out for the win, keeping them in fourth.

“The first fifteen to twenty minutes, we were very good,” continued Bracken. “We arguably deserved to be one in-front.

“After that, we reacted very slowly to everything. We were chasing shadows for large parts of the first half.

“We changed things at half time but concede a horrible goal. It deflates everybody. It came at the wrong time as we had a couple of moments which gave me encouragement to see we’d pull ourselves back on level terms.

“We’ve had too many of those goals this season. Letting them in at crucial times. There’re too many players that don’t react the right way.

“It wasn’t good enough in terms of our own quality. We can be better than that.

And Bracken faces a unique problem; Casuals are the highest ranked amateur side in the country and therefore do not have a playing budget to sign new players.

“Every time I look at social media, teams in and around us have signed quality players, getting fresh blood in. All those sides have the money and power to have a go at staying up. They add a little more to their budget.

“We don’t have those resources. We need to look at ourselves as to what we can do.

“I stand by these players but it’s difficult. When we lost our main goalscorer (Danny Cunningham) to injury, it was tough. Warren (Mfula’s) done great. Gabriel (Odunaike) was missing and will be absent for a few more soon. What I’d give to be able to go out and ‘buy’ a striker, but we can’t.

“Whilst things are going well, it’s great but when the backs are against the wall, it’s difficult.

“I’ll re-iterate it though. I believe in these players. Even after that performance today, by some of their own standards, their poorest performance of the season. I genuinely don’t remember them being worse than that. However, all things considered, we still could’ve snatched a draw against a decent team on a pitch that suits them.”

Casuals host Margate on Saturday.