There’s a swift return for many recent Sittingbourne players on Tuesday evening when Herne Bay are the visitors to Woodstock for the first Kent derby of the new Bostik League season.
When Sittingbourne’s successful under-21 managers John Embery and Jermaine Darlington were appointed in the summer to manage Herne Bay, it was hardly surprising that they turned to the players they knew best.
That meant virtually all the youngsters who had played for them at youth level - while also establishing themselves in senior football - switching loyalties from Sittingbourne to Herne Bay.
And the new Bay managers also invited Sittingbourne player/captain/coach Jono Richardson to join them in their new challenge.
Sittingbourne have faced a mass exodus before – when Steve Lovell went to Ashford and later the Ward brothers to Ramsgate – and regrouped.
And judging by their excellent win at Chipstead on the opening day of the season on Saturday, manager Nick Davis and assistant manager Tony Cornwell have risen to the challenge again this time.
A new-look Sittingbourne side, with 12 of the 16-man squad making their competitive debuts for the club, displayed strength, determination and organisation to return with an excellent 2-1 win.
Laurence Ball and young sub David Smith got the goals as the Brickies fought back from behind against a side they hadn’t beaten in four previous attempts.
Meanwhile Herne Bay were going down 1-0 at home to Lewes, beaten by a late goal.
Sittingbourne will undoubtedly have to have their feet firmly back on the ground after the jubilation of the Chipstead win by the time a motivated Herne Bay arrive at Woodstock.
There was a lesson to be learned from fellow Kent side Dover last week after they had won away in their opening game of the Conference season.
Back home for a Tuesday evening game against Kent rivals Bromley, buoyed up by an expectant crowd, they attacked furiously only to concede twice in breakaway attacks and lose the game.
While as many as nine Sittingbourne players moved down the road to Herne Bay, just one has made the journey in the opposite direction.
Centre-back Ben Gorham has impressed everyone at the club and is now team captain, while Ball had an excellent Sittingbourne debut alongside him in defence at Chipstead.
And at the other end, not only did he score Sittingbourne’s first half equaliser from Chris Webber’s deep cross but Ball also thumped a leader against the Chipstead bar in the second half from Smith’s free-kick.
When Sittingbourne and Herne Bay met at Woodstock earlier this year, the teams shared a 2-2 draw in a match most memorable for Brickies legend Hicham Akhazzan scoring his 100th goal for the club.
Sittingbourne take an early break from league action after Tuesday’s much-anticipated derby when they travel into deepest Sussex on Saturday to meet Pagham in the FA Cup.
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