Tony Rickson previews Sittingbourne v Chipstead

Written by Tony Rickson on 18th October 2017

Given the choice of three points, or the honour of completing an unprecedented 10 hours of football without conceding a goal, Sittingbourne manager Nick Davis would opt for the win.

Mind you, he’d just reject the offer anyway and insist that his players go for both – a victory over Chipstead at home on Saturday as well as seeing out at least the first 33 minutes without letting in a goal.

Sittingbourne haven’t conceded a goal in their last six matches – so that’s nine hours of football – and last let one in at Horsham 63 minutes into the game.

While that’s a great credit to the defence, even more importantly Sittingbourne have won seven on the trot and are currently second in the Bostik South League table.

They’ve already met Chipstead this season, on the opening day, when a superb free-kick by teenage substitute David Smith gave them a 2-1 win.

It was very much a step into the unknown that sunny August day in Surrey, with so many players new to the team and new to the sort of way Davis was going to get them to play.

But they knitted together well and kicked off the adventure which has seen them lose just once in the league all season, and impress everyone with the quality of their play and their attitude to the game.

Of course, the defensive discipline has been vital, but defending’s done from the front, and from striker Kane Rowland, through the wingers and midfielders, back to the back four and keeper, Sittingbourne have been well served by all their players.

The central defenders have been crucial, though, and Ben Gorham has proved reliable and decisive as well as being an excellent leader, and John Coker alongside him has been brilliant, great in the air, very proficient on the ground and terrific at reading the game.

At the other end of the field, Rowland has been good all season but has been in rich scoring form lately, getting two on both the previous two Saturdays.

Last week were both headers to set up the win 4-0 away to Shoreham, who incidentally met Saturday’s opponents Chipstead on Tuesday, losing 2-1.

Sittingbourne had no midweek game for the first time this season so will be fresh for the challenge of Chipstead, who have an impressive away record, having lost only two out of six on their travels.

It was Chipstead who inflicted on Sittingbourne their most demoralising defeat of recent years, winning 6-1 at Woodstock a couple of seasons ago.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, and in-form Sittingbourne have set themselves an excellent standard over the last couple of months which they will need to sustain week-in week-out to really make this a season to remember.

The game kicks off a run of five home games out of the next six, and if Sittingbourne can maintain what’s been mainly excellent home form up till now then they’ll be very well placed heading towards the halfway point of the season.

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