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Tony Rickson Reports


Saturday 16th February 2019

Bostik League South East Division


Sittingbourne (0) 2 (Lewins 70, Adebayo 83) East Grinstead Town (1) 1 (Dos Santos 14), Attendance: 175



Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Jack Morrell, Ben Fitchett (Tom Lawrence, 65 min), Joshua Spencer, Lewis Chambers, Tom Loynes (Izzy Adebayo, 45 min), Chris Bernard, Johan Caney-Bryan, Billy Lewins, Timmie Babbington (Liam Middleton, 45 min). Subs not used: Rob Lofting, Khalil McFarlane.


East Grinstead Town: Brannon Daly, Callum Emptage, Karn Miller-Neave, Ryan Johnson (Yellow card), Andrew Cooney, Jack Bray, Leo Mazzone, Mitchell Chapman (Jordan Johnson, 64 min), Gregory Cundle, Jerson Dos Santos (George Landais, 78 min), Ollie Boulding. Subs not used: Matt Day, Cameron Williams.


Referee: Jamaal Horne. Assistants: Stephen Matthews, Carl Smith.


This was the result and performance that Chris Lynch had been talking about since he took over last month as Sittingbourne manager.

The fightback from trailing at half-time was all about passion and determination, persistence and enthusiasm. He promised his team would never be short of that sort of commitment, and they didn't let him down, And praise for the manager’s bravery in having made all his substitutions with 25 minutes still to play, and gone three at the back in a bid to turn it round.

How important it was, too, as all three teams at the foot of the Bostik South East League won – with close rivals Herne Bay and Greenwich Borough also pulling off impressive victories against high-placed opponents. Without their three points, the league table would make grim reading for Sittingbourne at this point.

Sittingbourne went into the match on a pleasant mild afternoon with four changes from the team that lost their previous match, at home to Ashford.

They were without the suspended Tommie Fagg, and on-loan striker Roman Campbell had been recalled by Gillingham, but Tom Loynes, Ben Fitchett and Billy Lewins were all back after injury and Chris Bernard came straight into midfield for his debut.

You would never have guessed that Sittingbourne had lost seven out of their last eight games the way they started, looking confident and full of positivity.

They forced a flurry of early corners and attacking throw-ins, and Bernard had a shot from the edge of the area deflected past a wrong-footed keeper but sailing just wide.

East Grinstead hadn’t showed at this stage but were still gifted the lead after 14 minutes as Sittingbourne’s long wait for a clean sheet went on.

The otherwise immaculate Jack Morrell underhit a back pass that was too straight as well, and keeper Patrick Lee was rushed into a wild kick clear. It fell nicely for East Grinstead’s Cundle who hit an imaginative diagonal pass for Dos Santos to slip the ball in at the near post.

Sittingbourne sagged a bit in response and couldn’t recapture their earlier verve, and neither keeper was called on for most of the rest of the half, though Lee made one nice full-length save.

At the other end, Sittingbourne got forward a bit more towards the end of the half but shots from determined captain Chris Webber, by now limping Loynes, and the hard-working Johan Caney-Bryan were nowhere near the target.

In only his second start under Lynch, again Loynes sadly failed to last more than 45 minutes, and both wide players were replaced at half-time, with Izzy Adebayo and Liam Middleton coming on.

East Grinstead had been winding the clock down from about 30 minutes onwards, and Sittingbourne undoubtedly took the initiative after half-time and began to get more momentum into their play.

Chances came and went for Webber and Lewis Chambers, and when Morrell burst forward and took a tumble on the edge of the area he was penalised for simulation rather than getting the free-kick.

Sittingbourne went three at the back when Fitchett was withdrawn for their final substitution and five minutes later they got the reward for their enterprise.

After the assistant referee had signalled for a free-kick which the tolerant referee didn’t seem about to give, Morrell left-footed a beautiful kick into the six-yard box and Lewins anticipated it excellently to beat a whole host of taller players and head home from close in.

Next followed a lovely moment when Adebayo fired a shot wide of the far post and Caney-Bryan committed to a magnificent full-length dive to try and head it in. Spot on for courage and enthusiasm.

A draw was possibly a fairer result on balance of play but as the game reached a climax, East Grinstead missed a good chance with a header on

80 minutes, and Joshua Spencer stopped a fine run by Cundle with what was a tremendously-timed best-tackle-of-the-day.

Sittingbourne were determined to give Lynch his first home win and Adebayo pulled it off with a great run on 83 minutes. He committed two defenders with his impressive speed and dazzling footwork, finishing it off with a shot that was helped over the line by the two East Grinstead players who between them were trying to stop it.

Now it was East Grinstead who were regretting all the times they’d walk to take a throw-in or delayed a free-kick and they mounted some fierce injury time pressure. But Sittingbourne withstood a couple of corners and a free-kick from a dangerous position to hold out.

Bad news was what looks like a recurring injury for the sorely-missed Loynes, and the fact that Sittingbourne hardly got any shots on target all game. Good news was that they won anyway, and they’ll win some more if they maintain this level of energy and effort. Well done to them for that.




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