After two home matches called off because of frost, Sittingbourne should return to Woodstock action on Tuesday evening when Guernsey pay their annual flying visit.
The Brickies are still waiting for their first win of this year and have faced a difficult fixture list recently with a string of matches against teams high up in the league.
Guernsey aren’t in that category, and they’ve been struggling near the bottom this season after three year successful years in Ryman South.
But they were still good enough to beat Sittingbourne when the teams met in the Channel Islands in October, the Brickies pulling back a late goal through Steven Ita but still going down 2-1.
Sittingbourne’s disappointing run continued on Saturday when they lost
3-2 to Walton Casuals on the artificial pitch at Whyteleafe.
They scored through Josh Wisson and Tom Brunt, but both Wisson and fellow Academy product Jake Embery suffered ankle injuries and had to go off in the second half and must be doubtful for the Guernsey match.
It was Sittingbourne’s first match for three weeks so they could be expected to have been a bit rusty, but Walton proved strong opponents on a pitch they obviously know how to play on.
They were like five-a-side players, rolling the ball back and forth under the soles of their boots, and drawing fouls by constantly taking on players.
All three Sittingbourne players who played central midfield – Stefan Wright, Joe Loft and Conrad Lee – were yellow-carded, though the decision over Loft was controversial as he seemed to win the ball by tackling from the side.
The assistant referee helpfully explained to Sittingbourne manager Nick
Davis: “That’s definitely a foul these days, it’s not like when we played!”
The look Davis gave him in response reminded me of the one he gave the referee in Guernsey who had overruled an assistant who had signalled a penalty for Sittingbourne!
Guernsey have struggled for points since that day, winning some home matches but continuing a long run of away games without a win.
Until Saturday. They won 3-1 at Chipstead, their first win away from home in an incredible 26 matches, since December 2015, so they’ll head to Sittingbourne with their tails up.
Not that midweek matches are easy for Guernsey. It can be difficult getting a full team out as it means the Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning off work – or school – as a night game finishes too late to get a flight back that day.
Guernsey have all the trappings of a big non-league club, with excellent and enthusiastic crowds, great media attention, a terrific backroom team and a high local profile.
But recruiting new players can be difficult for them, especially in times of injury and unavailability, and that’s what has caught up with them this season after making the play-offs in their first season at this level, 2013-14.
Sittingbourne beat them 3-2 at home last season, fighting back from two-down to win with goals by Hicham Akhazzan, Harry Smith and Fred Obasa.
But that was the only time Sittingbourne have beaten Guernsey in seven attempts.
Though Guernsey ended their 13-month away run without a win on Saturday, Sittingbourne will be out to end their own record of not having won yet in 2017 when the teams meet on Tuesday evening.
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