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Tony Rickson Reports:

 

Saturday, 6th April 2019

 

 

Bostik League South East Division

 

Sittingbourne (0) 1 (Lewins 90) Horsham (2) 6 (Smith 32, 53, 83 (pen), Brivio 44, 88, Allan (og) 80)

 

Attendance: 182

 

Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee (Yellow card), Chris Webber, Jack Morrell, Lex  Allan, Tommy Fagg (Yellow card), Kwasi Amoah (Yellow card) (Khalil McFarlane, 36 min, Yellow card), Izzy Adebayo (Kane Phillip, 54 min), Tom Lawrence (Billy Lewins, 59 min), Roman Campbell, Henry Woods, Timmy Babbington. Subs not used: Josh Spencer, Johan Caney-Bryan.

 

Horsham: Joe Mant, Steve Metcalf (Yellow card), Harvey Sparks, Jack Brivio, William Miles (Yellow card) (Lewis Hyde, 64 min), Dylan Merchant-Simmons, Tyrell Richardson-Brown, George Hayward, Robert O’Toole (Yellow card) (Kieran Lavery, 67 min), Chris Smith, Lee Harding (Joseph Taylor, 76 min). Subs not used: Dean Lovegrove, Daniel Pearse.

Referee: Craig Pullen; Assistants: Tony King, Gary Baker

Photographs by Ken Medwyn

 

There’s no sugar-coating this. Sittingbourne were outplayed and outfought and ended up on the end of a devastating defeat.

Horsham had the huge incentive of clinching a place in the promotion play-offs if they won, and they made absolutely sure of it.

They were big, powerful, well-organised and strong in every position – but on top of that they worked very hard, and were still closing down every Sittingbourne player and chasing everything even when they were five or six up.

It was a lesson for Sittingbourne on where they want to be one day - but as it was they were made to look lightweight and very inexperienced by comparison.

They didn’t really get a shot on target all afternoon and a fourth successive defeat means they are still possible candidates for relegation unless they pick up a few more points in their remaining four matches.

It seemed such a distant memory the time they won at Horsham on the opening day of the season, and on the teams’ performances in this game it seems like quite a mystery how they managed it. Actually, I was there and they did it by grabbing their chances and then working like mad to prevent Horsham playing.

On an unpleasantly chilly day, they made five changes from the team that was beaten by bottom club Greenwich the previous week. Jack Morrell, Kwasi Amoah, Izzy Adebayo and Tommy Fagg returned with Tom Lawrence making his first start after a couple of substitute appearances. Both Lewis Chambers and Chris Barnard were out injured, while Kane Phillip, Rob Lofting and Harry Barkaway stepped down.

Sittingbourne got an early general warning from the referee for some mistimed tackles – which Horsham were very quick to loudly point out – and Kwasi Amoah was booked after just 12 minutes for a foul.

Goalkeeper Patrick Lee made a fine tip-over save to keep it goalless while at the other end Lawrence had  an opening after a good build-up and pass by Henry Woods, but his left-foot shot went wide of the far post.

Sittingbourne were playing well at the midway stage of the first half but went backwards once Horsham took a 31st minute lead when a free-kick beyond the far post was played back in across goal and Smith volleyed in at the far post.

What I thought was a terrible decision to penalise Adebayo when he seemed to stretch his leg out and win the ball led to Horsham’s second goal just before half-time, commanding captain Brivio powering his header in from the free-kick despite Lee’s half-save.

Two-nil and you’re in with a chance, but three-nil is a killer and Horsham got a third early in the second half when Smith nicked the ball off two Sittingbourne defenders and broke clear to smash it past the advancing Lee.

Horsham worked hard to protect their lead, Sittingbourne going closest when Fagg won his header from a corner but couldn’t keep it from going over the bar.

In the last 10 minutes, Horsham went to town and added three more goals as Sittingbourne finally succumbed to demoralisation.

Smith got the ball in from a narrow angle as Lee and Lex Allan just failed to keep it out, and then won a penalty as Lee fouled him when he was left clear after Fagg undercooked a headed back-pass. The final goal was another Brivio header from a free-kick, meaning four of Horsham’s six goals were scored from set pieces.

Somehow, Sittingbourne gathered themselves together to force an injury time corner, and when Henry Woods swung it into the near post, the keeper spilled it with sub Billy Lewins claiming the final touch as the ball trickled over the line.

Horrible weather, a horrible result, but Sittingbourne won’t be facing teams as good as Horsham in all their remaining fixtures so hope springs eternal that they’ll bounce back in the few weeks remaining this season.

 

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