Having conceded six goals last time they met these opponents, and five goals in their previous game last Saturday, keeping a clean sheet was a major priority for Sittingbourne at Chipstead.
Securing their goal so tightly that goalkeeper Adam Molloy only had a couple of spectacular-ish saves to make, Sittingbourne then just had to finish off the job by knocking in a couple at the other end.
They couldn’t have got much closer, hitting the post and having two cleared virtually off the line as well as wasting the ultimate chance – a first half penalty.
That’s three penalties Sittingbourne have had saved in the last few weeks – they blast them in for fun in pre-match warm-ups but it’s a whole lot different taking them under pressure in an actual match.
Following the 5-3 Walton Casuals defeat just down the road from Chipstead in the previous game, Sittingbourne changed half their back four. Bill Parkinson came in at right-back with skipper Tom Brunt pushed up to midfield in place of the unavailable Tom Carlse, and Jono Richardson returned at centre-half with George Crimmen stepping down.
The game started with Chipstead having quite a lot of possession but not doing much dangerous with it, and Sittingbourne looking threatening on the counter-attack.
And that’s the way it played out, really, except Sittingbourne got on top at the end of each half without quite turning their domination into goals.
Dan Hughes had a great chance midway through the first half, breaking clear down the inside-left channel from a pass by the ever-elusive Steven Ita, but he couldn’t make the most of it, while Adam Allen slammed another shot close to the far post.
At the other end Molloy made two excellent tip-overs, though to be fair he’d have been disappointed to have been beaten by either shot.
The great opportunity of an otherwise pretty chance-free half came on 44 minutes when an Ita corner bounced up and was handled by near post defender Pilipe.
The Sittingbourne fans behind the goal wittily called for Stefan Wright, who was warming up on the touchline, to take the penalty in recognition of his horror miss in last month’s League Cup semi-final at Faversham.
It was Ita who stepped up but just like the penalty he had saved at East Grinstead a few weeks ago, he stroked it too close to the keeper, who had time to dive and save it.
With drizzly rain replacing the pre-match sunshine, the second half was another fairly even affair with Chipstead only carving out one real chance, which was stabbed hurriedly straight at Molloy from close in.
The best chances were all for Sittingbourne, most of them in the last few minutes as Chipstead tired.
Miles Cornwell burst clear on Hughes’ pass but the keeper tipped his shot over, Wright was just beaten to a cross-shot from fellow sub Jake Embery by a covering defender, Crimmen had a header from a corner cleared off the line, and Cornwell hit a terrific shot from 20 yards that beat the Chips keeper only to ping back off the post.
Sittingbourne were also denied when the lively Embery was tripped as he raced at the back four. Instead of lying there whining about it, he quickly got up and played Cornwell clear from the free-kick, only for the referee to call it back, presumably for having been taken from the wrong place.
After the chaos of their defending at times the previous week, this was a proper performance by Sittingbourne to earn only their second league goalless draw of what’s been a long season.
Just four games left now - three of them at home – and plenty of reasons to then look forward to next season after a deserved rest for players who have given plenty throughout this season.
CHIPSTEAD 0 (0)
SITTINGBOURNE 0 (0)
Mr Damith Bandara
Mr Andrew Senior
Mr James Humphries
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