Tony Rickson reports on Haywards Heath v Sittingbourne
Saturday 6th October 2018
Bostik South East League
Haywards Heath (1) 2 (Simpson 34, Akehurst 85) Sittingbourne (0) 0
Haywards Heath: Josh Heyburn, Kieron Rowe, Sean Roddy, Karl Akehurst, Nathan Cooper, Josh Spinks, Callum Saunders (Lewis Finney, 75 min), Byron Napper, Melford Simpson, Kane Louis (Ansu Jenneh, 90+1 min), Max Miller (Patrick Akwasi-Bronyan, 89 min). Subs not used: Ibrahim Fofane, Luke Robinson.
Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Reiss Crimmen (Yellow card) (Josh Dorling, 75 min), Dan Parkinson, Lex Allan, Ben Fitchett, Ira Jackson, Khalil McFarlane, Johan Caney-Brown (Nathan Elder, 78 min), Bola Dawodu, Tom Loynes. Subs not used: Joe Denny, Harrison Hatfull, Mason Last.
Referee: Mr A Higgs. Assistants: Mr M Edwards, Mr T Price.
Photographs by Ken Medwyn:
From the first minute to the final whistle, Sittingbourne outclassed and out-performed Haywards Heath.
Unfortunately, that was only in the stand where the loyal Brickies fans sang loud and long – even in tune sometimes, as well - to put the silent home supporters to shame.
On the pitch it was a different matter entirely, and those hardy followers deserved more for their unstinting support as Haywards Heath deservedly extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
Worryingly for Sittingbourne it was a second successive league defeat and a second Saturday in a row when they’ve failed to score.
OK, the conditions were terrible with the rain pelting down all afternoon, but it rained just as hard on the home players so that’s no excuse.
For the first time this season in a league game, Sittingbourne were without key midfielders Lewis Chambers and the suspended Tommie Fagg, and they were both sorely missed.
It all started well, with Sittingbourne bright and breezy and Haywards Heath the opposite as Tom Loynes was foiled by a good save by the home keeper in the sixth minute, and Reiss Crimmen’s corner almost crept in at the near post.
Sittingbourne were pressing well and dominating most of the possession, but they paid heavily for a misplaced pass on 34 minutes. They were attacking in the final third with a lot of players up in support, but the ball was lost and Haywards Heath broke quickly and efficiently. When a low pass was played in from the right, Louis, by far the game’s outstanding player, helped it on deftly and Simpson tucked it inside the near post.
With the wind blowing them downfield, Sittingbourne tried to respond and Dan Parkinson had his shot from a good position blocked and Ira Jackson shot wide after Ben Fitchett’s pass put him in with a chance.
But they never looked totally in control and in the second half, when I honestly felt they would press on and win the game, they just faded out of the picture and hardly tested the home keeper.
Jackson cut in impressively from the right to get himself into shooting positions but then blasted them wide, and Loynes out on the left was starved of possession as Sittingbourne struggled to get much sustained pressure.
Their best player in the second half was goalkeeper Patrick Lee, who made a couple of terrific blocks at close range, as Haywards Heath went for the second goal that would undoubtedly clinch it for them.
They had to wait until the 85th minute when a corner was headed back in from beyond the far post and Akehurst tucked it in from close range, Sittingbourne appealing unsuccessfully for an infringement in the melee.
But they got nothing from the referee, who was at least consistent in that, though he can’t be blamed for them losing the match.
Haywards Heath, newly-promoted to the division this season, played at quite a pedestrian pace and weren’t that imposing, to be honest, but the proof’s in the pudding and as a unit they were the better one.
Happily, that’s the three longest trips in Bostik South East done already for Sittingbourne, and there’s still a long way to go in the season. There’s a lot of talent – and promise - in the present squad so plenty of reasons for optimism. Including an FA Trophy tie against local rivals Faversham next Saturday to look forward to.