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
Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee (Yellow card), Kwasi Amoah
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
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
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
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.
Match Day Programme