Tony Rickson reports:
Tuesday 30th October 2018
Bostik League South East Division
Hythe Town (2) 3 (Aikhionbare 1, 28, Kinnear 74) Sittingbourne (2) 2 (Parkinson 38, Loynes 40), Attendance: 252
Hythe Town: Ryan Nicholls, Sal Kisitu, Aziz Lyoubi, Chris Kinnear, Nathan Daly, Mitchell Dickenson, Ryan Palmer (Josh Stiman, 82 min), Junior Aikhionbare (Billy Lewins, 90+2 min), Zak Ansah, Nigel Neita, Kieron Campbell. Subs not used: Jack Negus, Charlie Webster, Zach Fagan.
Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Reiss Crimmen (Yellow card), Dan Parkinson, Ben Fitchett, Joe Denny, Tommie Fagg (Gil Carvalho, 63 min, Red card), Lewis Chambers, Ira Jackson, Bola Dawodu (Yellow card), Tom Loynes (David Latunde, 82 min). Subs not used: Josh Dorling, Harrison Hatfull, Shea Pritchard.
Referee: Mr James Simpson. Assistants: Mr Harry Phillips, Mr Matthew Charles.
It was fitting that the day after the death of much-respected Sittingbourne FC club president Alan Crowshaw that the players should produce a display packed with character and bravery.
Ultimately they didnít have anything to show for it, but how well Sittingbourne did to come back from two-down early on and go close to causing a major upset.
Hythe havenít lost a home league match this season and the three points they got from this win took them back up to third in the Bostik South East League.
So it was doubly disappointing for Sittingbourne to get within a mistake or two of spoiling their day, and end up falling into the bottom half of the table for the first time this season.
The match was preceded by a minuteís silence in honour of Mr Crowshaw and a Sittingbourne team unchanged from the midweek defeat at Folkestone in the Velocity Trophy kicked off in pleasant autumn sunshine.
In fact, it was from the kick-off that Hythe scored, Sittingbourne losing possession on the edge of the home sideís penalty area. The ball was whisked forward into the inside-right channel on the counter-attack and the speedy Aikhionbare raced clear of the central defence before lashing a superb shot high inside the near post.
Just seconds into the game and a hammer blow for Sittingbourne, Hythe following it with more dangerous attacks in the opening few minutes and almost adding an immediate second.
It took patience and strength of mind for Sittingbourne to edge their way back into the game after such a shocking start, but they seemed to be settling into it despite giving the ball away too much after building good positions.
Then came another shocker. A long clearance by Hythe keeper Roberts deep into the Sittingbourne half in the 29th minute saw goalkeeper Patrick Lee race out of his area to kick the ball away. Whether the low sun temporarily blinded him, or whether the ball bounced strangely, but Lee totally missed his kick and Aikhionbare simply had to run on behind him and place the ball in the empty net.
Who would have thought at this moment that Sittingbourne would go into half-time on level terms, but somehow they managed it, battling back with courage and conviction.
After unleashing one long-range shot that keeper Nicholls saved at the second attempt, Dan Parkinson blasted in a free-kick from 25 yards that wrong-footed the keeper, admittedly with the help of a big deflection on the way through.
And two minutes later, with just 40 minutes played, Sittingbourne were level as Tommy Fagg threaded a clever pass through for Tom Loynes.
Running at full pelt, his first touch seemed slightly too heavy but with a defender and the keeper closing him down from different directions, Loynes stretched to get there first and place the ball in the far corner. That makes Loynes the teamís leading scorer now this season.
Driven on with the help of tremendous backing from their ever-noisy ever-singing fans, Sittingbourne looked the more dangerous side for quite a time in the second half, Parkinson having a free-kick in a promising position blocked by the wall and Ira Jackson seeing his shot tipped over the bar by the keeper.
Hythe were probably just getting back into the game a bit when they scored the 74th minute winner thanks to a mixture of luck and skill. Lee was once again out of his area to half-clear the ball but it fell to midfielder Kinnear, who from fully 30 yards immediately lobbed it straight back in as Lee tried in vain to race back to his line.
For poor old Lee it completed a day heíll want to forget but heís such an enthusiastic and positive influence on the team heís easy to forgive when things donít work out for him.
Again, Sittingbourne responded well and sub Gil Carvalho, making what seemed a welcome return to the club, went so close to an equaliser with a shot the Hythe keeper just managed to turn away with a fine save.
With four minutes left, though, Carvalho blotted his copybook with a reckless tackle which the referee deemed worthy of a straight red card.
So five goals, a sending off, a spirited fightback. An enjoyable game all round. Quite an afternoon down in South Kent Ė but a draw would surely have been a fairer result!