Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Josh Dorling, Dan Parkinson, Lex Allan, Ben Fitchett (Yellow card), Ira Jackson (Red card), Lewis Chambers, Bola Dawodu (Yellow card), Tommie Fagg (Nathan Elder, 70 min), Izzy Adebayo (Tom Loynes, 70 min). Subs not used: Harry Brooks, Reiss Crimmen, Khalil McFarlane, Johan Caney-Bryan, Harrison Hatfull.
Gosport Borough: Patrick O’Flaherty, Tom Leggett, Harry Medway, Jordan Brooks, Matthew Casey (Matt Tubbs, 86 min), Lucas McCartney (Eddie Wakley, 62 min), Connor Hoare, Patrick Suraci, Craig McAllister (Samuel Lanahan, 70 min), Ryan Pennery, Tony Lee (Yellow card). Subs not used: Joseph Lea, Scott Walters, Alexander La Fleur, Bradley Stone.
Referee: Craig Barnett. Assistants: Reece Pinchback, James Masson.
Video and Pics by Ken Medwyn
That’s two cup competitions Sittingbourne have gone out of this season on penalties. The first was in the Kent Senior Cup when three penalties were awarded against them at Tonbridge and they lost 3-2, while this was the altogether more important matter of the Emirates FA Cup. Again it was decided on penalties, well just the one, awarded to Gosport Borough after 52 minutes. And the one Sittingbourne might have had as they pressed desperately for an equaliser, and a replay. But it was Gosport who got the crucial decisions and they were able to wind down the clock and manage the game out successfully, even though they lost both their central defenders to second half injuries. Sittingbourne were left to regret missing out on the £6,000 prize money from the FA, made doubly annoying by the niggling feeling that not a lot went their way in the form of decisions from the officials. Perhaps it’s because they’re such a young team that there’s a bit of naivety about their tackling, or that they come up against more experienced players who crumple to the ground at the slightest touch and successfully claim free-kicks. To cap it all, and complete what all in was a very disappointing afternoon, they had Ira Jackson sent off deep into injury time on the say of an assistant referee. What Sittingbourne can take from the game is that they more than matched a team who play football one division higher, and on another day they could easily have ended up with at least a replay. On an autumnal afternoon, manager Aslan Odev had some selection issues to resolve for the first time this season really, and it meant Reiss Crimmen and Tom Loynes were squeezed out of the starting line-up from the previous week’s 5-4 defeat at Thamesmead. Pat Lee retained the keeper’s jersey ahead of Harry Brooks, who kept a clean sheet in the midweek League Cup win, and turned in his best performance yet, with a couple of brilliant second half saves. Sittingbourne started brightly and Tom Fagg’s header from an early corner was scrambled away by the keeper with Lewis Chambers just enable to find the target as he got his head to the rebound. Both Bola Dawodu and Chambers had shots well blocked by Gosport defenders when they had good openings on goal, and the visitors took the threat of Chambers’ long throws so seriously they pulled all 11 players back into the penalty area to defend them. Gosport hit the bar with one effort – as they did in the second half, too – and Lee made a good save to tip over Pennery’s shot. The visitors got the only goal of the game on 52 minutes when a push by Chambers as he went for a header was penalised, and Pennery neatly scored from the spot-kick. Understandably, Gosport wasted time for all they were worth, and Sittingbourne relied heavily on throw-ins, free-kicks and corners as they didn’t create too many chances from open play. Dawodu just failed to get into position to turn a chance in from Chris Webber’s pull-back while their other big opportunity was an 83rd minute free-kick for Ira Jackson from an identical spot to where he scored a spectacular goal against Greenwich Borough last month. But he drove this one into the wall. There were big appeals for a penalty, too, when defender Casey’s clumsy challenge for a high ball ended up with him injuring himself when he clattered into the Sittingbourne player but the referee waved away appeals. The game ended with Jackson getting his marching orders, and Gosport winning the place in the next round. Wembley will have to wait for another year.