Back to South London after just a couple of days’ recovery to face another of the leading promotion contenders in Bostik League South.
Life’s not easy for Sittingbourne at the moment as they travel on Saturday to Greenwich Borough, probably the pre-season favourites to win the league.
They go there after two midweek away defeats against teams also above them in the league.
In both games, at Walton Casuals last week and Cray Wanderers on Wednesday, Sittingbourne conceded three second half goals, and nearly all of them late in the game.
There was nothing in it at Walton before the home team broke the deadlock and went on to score twice late on when Sittingbourne were pressing for an equaliser.
It was a different story on Wednesday as Cray, unbeaten at home all season and on a 14-game unbeaten run, were outplayed and out-thought by Sittingbourne for an hour.
By that time the Brickies led 2-0 through top scorer Kane Rowland and a screamer by David Smith, whose speciality is superb goals.
But the game turned when Sittingbourne were reduced to 10 men as John Coker was controversially sent off, and they just couldn’t hold out against the late Cray pressure.
The home side got two in injury time, by no means the first time in the last few weeks – Phoenix, Faversham, Corinthian Casuals, Wingate & Finchley – that Sittingbourne have conceded costly late goals.
One consequence of the Cray defeat will be the suspension of the highly influential Coker, though that won’t start until next week.
Another will be the absence of key midfielder Bola Dawodu, who had eight stitches in a horrific head wound at Cray, an injury which clearly infuriated his teammates who saw how it happened in his own penalty area.
Saturday’s opponents Greenwich Borough are currently sixth in the league table, having drawn four of their last five league games.
Their left-back Tom Carlse, who was a leading player for Sittingbourne last season, knows exactly what’s in store as he watched Wednesday’s match at Cray. In fact, he was also a spectator when the clubs met at Sittingbourne in October.
Carlse was one of the goalscorers when Sittingbourne last played at Greenwich Borough. Along with Dan Tanner and Josh Wisson he was on target in the first half of what turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable 3-1 win.
Greenwich got their own back in the return match, the first game of this year at Woodstock, when they stormed home 5-1.
They went on to finish third in the league, but lost to Corinthian Casuals in the play-off semi-finals.
Sittingbourne were superb for much of the night at Cray, working really hard and sticking resolutely to a highly effective game plan, and they’re good enough to still be serious contenders for a play-off place.
The match takes them to exactly halfway through the season – a season that has so far seen them excitingly far exceed expectations after the way they had to rebuild a team from scratch in the summer.
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