Much-changed Sittingbourne fought back strongly for a deserved draw in their Boxing Day derby.
It was a good recovery from a couple of disappointing defeats and a decent effort by a team who looked a little bit thrown together on the day.
There were five players missing from the previous week and altogether the squad was lacking Conrad Lee, Sam Welch, Dan Tanner, Josh Wisson, Danny Rumbol, Jordan Gallacher (now with Chatham), Jake Embery and Connor Wilkins.
Tom Carr was drafted in to defence for his debut and had an immense game while Remill Davis returned upfront after starting the season with the club and put in a typically hard-working shift.
Former captain Tom Brunt returned – that made it three out of four Toms in defence – and Steven Ita was back but looked far from his former fitness and only lasted just over half the game.
Faversham, who have struggled in mid-table this season after reaching the play-offs last time around, included three former Sittingbourne players – Matt Bourne, Ryan Cooper and Jack Steventon with the latter two combining for the home team’s goal.
For Sittingbourne, Simon Overland was back on the ground where his Faversham career ended with a broken leg but continued his assured form.
Sittingbourne started on the front foot, and it was soon clear they were vastly superior in at least one area – their fans out-sang the home club and maintained terrific backing throughout.
Ita got hurt taking a free-kick in just the same way as he did when he scored a penalty at Ramsgate last month and as Sittingbourne pressed forward Ricky Gundry shot wide of the far post following another free-kick.
Overland made an excellent save from a close range Cooper header and in what was, to be fair, a pretty low-key first half, hard-working Joe Loft had a shot blocked for a corner after the best move of the half by Sittingbourne.
Faversham wound up the pace a bit at the start of the second half and took the lead five minutes in with a goal that was pretty familiar to Sittingbourne. Steventon took a long throw-in from the left and when it was cleared to him, instead of letting it roll out for another throw, he crossed to the far post where Cooper scored from a couple of yards out.
Sittingbourne had to wait until midway through the half for a shot on goal, Davis volleying over, but they gradually began to mount some better pressure.
And they deservedly equalised on 73 minutes when Hicham Akhazzan’s excellent free-kick was saved at full length by the Faversham keeper, the reliable Tom Carlse crossed it back in and Anthony O’Connor headed comfortably home at the far post.
Sittingbourne looked the more likelier of the sides to win it in the closing stages but a point each was fair enough.
That’s the landmark target of 40 points reached by Sittingbourne and, fair play to them, they’d have been delighted at the start of the season to reach that before the year was out. After all, they’re only seven points off a play-off place at this stage …
Ken Medwyn's photographs are here CLICK HERE
Ryan Cooper 51 mins
Anthony O'Connor 74 mins
Referee: Simon Finnegan
Assistants: Kirk Edwards
Tom Carlse (Yellow card),
Joe Loft (Yellow card),
Ricky Gundry (Bradley Schafer, 80 min),
Anthony O’Connor (Yellow card), Remell Davis, Steven Ita (Hicham Akhazzan, 50 min).
Sub not used: Nick Davis.
Jamie Maxted (Yellow card),
Jack Steventon (Yellow card),
Kieron Campbell (Sam Bewick, 68 min),
Jordan Casey (Luke Harvey, 68 min),
Subs not used: Bola Dawodu, Luke Griffiths, David Blaikie.
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