At the end of their toughest week of the season, Sittingbourne finished with a win, a draw and a defeat.
Not a bad record as all three opponents have real promotion potential, and for this final match of the three, they faced a side who now lead the Ryman South.
And you could see how they got there, making Sittingbourne chase shadows for the first half hour and undeniably deserving of the win.
Sittingbourne played well at Lewes the previous Saturday to get a draw, played even better in the second half to beat Walton Casuals in midweek, but were absolutely shut out of a chance to make a similar impact here.
They fielded the same team from both of those games with Dorking anchored smoothly in midfield by Jake Beecroft, who impressed in an all too brief stay with Sittingbourne last season, Dorking set themselves up from the start to pass Sittingbourne out of the game, though they weren’t without the occasional dark art, with Stefan Wright very much the man targeted.
In fact a nasty looking challenge on him straight from the kick-off earned Dorking’s Gunner what must surely be one of the quickest yellow cards ever.
Dorking were hardly giving Sittingbourne a touch of the ball and they took the lead after 15 minutes through a penalty taken by Sole, an experienced striker with a pedigree in Conference football.
Just as at Lewes the previous week it was a soft pen, Jono Richardson stretching to challenge Sole for the ball with his left leg. Too high, ruled the referee.
I remember saying of the Lewes penalty that I would have wanted it to be given if it was in Sittingbourne’s favour but I wouldn’t have thought that here. Harsh in the extreme.
In a rare Sittingbourne attack Jordan Gallacher fired across the home goal on the end of an excellent Tom Carlse pass and later in the half Anthony O’Connor shot just wide from Joe Loft’s through pass.
But these were isolated moments as generally Dorking, a side very comfortable on the ball from No 1 to 11, dominated the half and Sittingbourne too easily gave it away again when they did get the occasional touch.
And it was 2-0 just before half time as Sole nipped in behind the central defence to head home a left-wing cross after 41 minutes. A bit too similar to the Lewes equaliser the previous week, so that’s a concern for Sittingbourne.
With the rain now settled overhead, the second half was slightly different with Sittingbourne strengthening midfield to try to stop Dorking having so much of the ball.
It worked, but when they got forward Sittingbourne were beating their heads against the brick wall of a defence with by far the best record for goals conceded in this division.
Sittingbourne put together one outstanding move down the left, where they were so strong against Walton, but it ended with O’Connor’s shot missing the target.
That, and a couple of shots from distance by Conrad Lee and sub Josh Wisson that were way too high, was about all they had to show for a second half where pulling back a two-goal deficit always looked much too tough a proposition.
And Dorking made it three near the end when McShane found space in the area from a right-wing pass to pick his spot in the far corner.
So Sittingbourne’s sparkling unbeaten run of six matches was unceremoniously ended with a decisive defeat, but they still have a record of just two defeats in 10 matches as a consolation.
It’s how they bounce back from this hardly unexpected setback against such a decent team that will shape how well they do in the second half of the season.
Ken Medwyn's photographs are here CLICK HERE
Sole 15 (pen), 41, McShane 81
Referee: Mr Michael Ryan.
Assistants: Mr Andrew Connor, Mr Stephen Hawks.
Stefan Wright (Josh Wisson, 58 min),
Anthony O’Connor (Tom Brunt, 81 min),
Ricky Gundry (Jake Embery, 74 min),
Jordan Gallacher (Yellow card).
Subs not used: Connor Wilkins, Nick Davis.
Chris Boulter (Yellow card) (Dean Hamlin, 62 min), Ben Dyett,
Jake Beecroft (William Hearn, 84 min),
Dean Gunner (Yellow card),
Tom Summerfield (Yellow card) (Matt Briggs, 66 min),
Subs not used: Tom Familton, Matt Price.
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