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Tony Rickson Reports:

Saturday, 20th April 2019

By Tony Rickson


Bostik League South East Division


Sittingbourne (0) 0 Hastings United (2) 3   (Rodari 25, Azeez 30, Ajakaiye 69), Attendance: 264


Referee: Isaac Searle; Assistants: James Beale, Richard Joss


Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee (Yellow card), Kwasi Amoah (Joshua Spencer,

74 min), Jack Morrell, Lex  Allan, Tommy Fagg, Chris Webber, Timmy Babbington (Izzy Adebayo, 59 min), Chris Barnard, Roman Campbell, Henry Woods, Liam Middleton (Billy Lewins, 45 min). Subs not used: Khalil McFarlane, Kane Phillip.


Hastings United: Louis Rogers, Ollie Black, Gary Elphick, Davide Rodari, Adam Lovatt, Sam Adams, Jack Tucker, Bradley Stevenson (Dahiez Ajakaiye, 61 min), Jamie Fielding, Lanre Azeez (Jordy Mongoy, 75 min), Jack Dixon (Yellow card) (Sam Cruttwell, 66 min). Subs not used: Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Charles Horlock.

Photographs from the game by Ken Medwyn


The good news is that Sittingbourne are definitely staying up this season and will have another bash at Bostik League South East when August comes around.

The bad news is that this was a sixth successive defeat, and they’ve come up so short in the last three games against top-half teams that altogether they’ve let in 12 goals while scoring just one.

None of the teams around them at the wrong end of the table won, and Greenwich Borough’s 0-0 draw means they can’t possibly overhaul Sittingbourne’s total of 35 points (half of which was gained in one mad spell soon after Chris Lynch took over as manager).

Already assured of their place in the end-of-season play-offs, Hastings proved effective and determined opposition, even though they played a lot of route one stuff and relied enormously on set pieces and especially long throws.

Sittingbourne weren’t outclassed in the way they were when they lost 5-0 away to Hastings in January, and battled hard to stay in the game, especially for much of the second half when they were only two-down.

But they’re still coming up short against the better teams at this level and there’s plenty of work for Lynch to do to really make a go of it next season.

It was summer weather at Woodstock, with beautiful clear blue skies, and Sittingbourne made four changes from the team that lost 3-0 at Whyteleafe the previous week.

Roman Campbell and Jack Morrell were released back by Gillingham to play, and Kwasi Amoah and Liam Middleton were given starting spots.

Skipper Chris Webber again started in midfield, while Josh Spencer, Kane Phillip and Billy Lewins went down to the bench, and Johan Caney-Bryan was out injured.

Nothing much to choose between the sides for the opening spell as Sittingbourne threaded together a few decent moves with Middleton shooting past the far post and the Hastings keeper failing to get hold of a powerful 25-yarder from the energetic Chris Barnard.

As in the game at Hastings, Black’s enormous throw-ins were one of their main threats. He throws it a lot further than even Lewis Chambers, and every ball kicked out in the opposition half was launched straight into the six-yard area.

One throw was going straight into goal under the bar in the 25th minute before Patrick Lee turned it over, but from the resulting corner Hastings took the lead, a long ball beyond the far post headed back across goal for Rodari to score from close in. Hastings used this over-hit corner in the home game against Sittingbourne so it was irritating to see the tactic used effectively again.

Five minutes later and Hastings doubled their lead when Azeez got possession on the halfway line and simply raced through the middle of the home defence to score a fine individual goal. This one was irritating, too, as the referee seemed to miss a clear foul on the frequently-manhandled Campbell that gave Hastings the ball in the first place.

Sittingbourne stayed in the game well and had a lot of the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Barnard headed over and had a decent chance blocked, Henry Wood fired the ball across goal and Campbell had a powerful free-kick from distance that the keeper could only punch away.

The next goal was going to be crucial and Hastings got it midway through the half. Again it was one of those mighty throw-ins that got the ball into the danger area and tricky sub Ajakaiye dummied a defender to set himself up for a neatly-taken goal.

It was game over from then really and Lee was the star of the final few minutes, making one terrific save and three good ones in quick succession to keep out more Hastings’ efforts.

Sometimes it seems as if the more Sittingbourne struggle, the more their fans get behind them, and they certainly out-sang a good number from Hastings who helped swell the attendance to the third largest home crowd of the season.

So at least that was one match Sittingbourne won, and surely they stand a good chance of ending their losing run on the pitch, too, as they face Herne Bay and bottom-of-the-league Guernsey in their final two matches of the season.

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