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 Saturday, 9th March 2019

By Tony Rickson

 

Bostik League South East Division

 

Sevenoaks Town 0 Sittingbourne 1 (Middleton 85 mins)

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Fraser Walker, Josh Dorling (Yellow card), Dan Parkinson, Jack Miles, Tom Ripley (Yellow card), Makhojini Khanya (Kieran Hughes, 64 min), Michael Aziaya (Adrian Stone, 55 min), Alec Fiddes, Frankie Sawyer, Ainsley Everett (Kenny Pogue, 76 min). Subs not used: Osman Proni, Daniel Cumber.

 

Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Kwasi Amoah, Tommy Fagg,  Jack Morrell, Lewis Chambers,  Izzy Adebayo (Liam Middleton, 66 min), Chris Barnard, Roman Campbell, Henry Woods (Khalil McFarlane, 79 min), Timmy Babbington (Billy Lewins, 59 min). Subs not used: Rob Lofting, Abdel Ndew.

 

Referee: Conall Bartlett. Assistants: Patrick O’Reilly, Chris Britton.

Photographs by Glen Parkes & Paul Golding

 

When the time comes to look back on Sittingbourne’s incredible run of five successive wins, then this will be the one that’s hardest to remember.

It was a bit scrappy, it was definitely spoiled by a chilly and strong wind, and there weren’t that many goal opportunities at either end.

Which is why this was such a good win by Sittingbourne. They had to battle it out, they had to dig deep, they had to run and compete and tackle and make sure they were doing it all just that bit longer and harder than the home side.

And they got their reward with an 85th minute winner by young sub Liam Middleton, his first goal for the club after becoming one of Chris Lynch’s first signings back in January.

It gave Sittingbourne their first double of the season, having beaten Sevenoaks 4-1 at home before Christmas.

It gave them their second clean sheet of the season – that’s just a penalty and a header from a corner scored against them in the last four games. Not a single goal from open play.

And it took them up to 12th in the Bostik South East League, leapfrogging over Sevenoaks, and surely consigning to the dustbin all the fears of possible relegation that were so much to the forefront before Lynch came in and waved his magic wand.

With Ben Fitchett back at Margate, Sittingbourne made just the one change from the team that beat Faversham in the local derby the previous Saturday, Kwasi Amoah making his first start at left-back and Jack Morrell switching to central defence.

And what a pairing Morrell and Tommy Fagg made at the back – they were the rock on which Sittingbourne built a team that comfortably thwarted everything Sevenoaks could throw at them. Well, everything apart from a couple of alarms later in the first half.

The wind was at its strongest in that half and it did its best to spoil the game. Sittingbourne got forward to force corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions, but so hard were they to control that none of them amounted to much. And when Sevenoaks tried to get the ball forward, so often was it overhit that goalkeeper Patrick Lee had only to collect them or let them run out for goal-kicks.

Sevenoaks did get the ball in the net after 25 minutes from a free-kick that swung deep into the area only for the assistant referee to signal offside, and they had fierce appeals for a penalty for handball rejected just before half-time. I didn’t see anything, but so concerted and unanimous were the home players’ appeals that you felt there must have been something in it. No good them fiercely complaining to the referee after he’d blown the half-time whistle, though – he wasn’t going to give it then.

Having had only a Chris Barnard shot saved by the diving keeper to show for their first half attacks, Sittingbourne were much more dangerous in the second half and quickly established themselves as the better side.

Both Barnard and Henry Woods had shots that were too close to the keeper, Izzy Adebayo had an effort fizz wide and Roman Campbell won a couple of flick-ons in dangerous positions from Lewis  Chambers’

throw-ins only for no-one to claim the second ball.

Sevenoaks hadn’t had much of a look-in all through the half but suddenly had a bit of a flurry, Sittingbourne having to be brave and determined to keep out a couple of corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions.

It always looked as if Sevenoaks’ defence was more vulnerable when attacked on the ground rather than with high balls, and just such a move gave Sittingbourne their glorious winner with five minutes left on the clock.

Sub Billy Lewins and Campbell combined well, and from Campbell’s neat through pass, Middleton burst into space behind the defence and confidently and coolly finished it with a shot into the far corner past the advancing keeper.

That made it 18 points out of a possible 21 – Sittingbourne’s best run for a number of years. The fans, as noisy as ever here, are lapping it up, and the players look like they’re enjoying every minute of it, too.

You can’t beat an away win – and that’s four of them on the bounce now.

 

 

 

  

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