A second successive win and – this will especially delight manager Nick Davis – clean sheets in successive games for the first time this season.
Sittingbourne thoroughly deserved what was just their second away win in the last 11 games, outplaying Horsham for brightness, determination and
With six of the starting line-up just 21 or under, and a seventh coming on as a sub, this was a triumph for the youth system at Sittingbourne and for boldly giving youngsters their chance. Yet as I walked up the road away from the Horsham ground for presumably the last time – they’re moving to pastures new from now on – it was the noise I will remember most.
The noise from an even louder and more raucous bunch of Sittingbourne fans than usual as they serenaded the winning team.
The players have had a good go for the club this season, but so, too, have the supporters – long may their mutual admiration continue.
Sittingbourne made three changes to the team that beat promotion-chasing Carshalton 1-0 the previous week – Tom Brunt, Josh Wisson and Callum
Wraight returning, the latter after a one-game suspension following his sending-off on debut.
They replaced Conrad Lee, Keanu Williams and Sam Welch but Davis had a surprise up his sleeve, switching to a 3-5-2 formation for the first
Wraight lined up in a back three alongside skipper Jono Richardson and last week’s goalscoring star Jack Steventon, with Brunt and the effervescent Tom Carlse enjoying the freedom of the wing-backs role. Up front Gil Carvalho gave his support to the hugely promising Jake Embery, while Connor Wilkins and Josh Wisson provided the midfield graft alongside the ever-running Joe Loft.
In the Sussex sunshine it was an even first half with few chances at either end though Horsham’s Boswell did rattle the bar in the 16th minute. ‘Simon had it covered’ sang the Sittingbourne fans, if a little optimistically.
At the other end Embery had a shot cleared off the line, Steventon’s long throws caused mini-chaos in the Horsham area, and Embery was crudely chopped down as he tried to race clear from a long way out.
Sittingbourne upped the pressure in the second half and were clearly the better side with seemingly more energy and guile. And the new tactics
seemed to suit them well.
Embery had a fine shot that was going in at the far post saved excellently by the home keeper before Davis made one of those dream substitutions to clinch the victory, bringing on Kane Philip.
Always likely to do the unexpected, Philip burst past two defenders in the 71st minute to cross low to the near post. Embery imaginatively back-heeled it on and Carvalho was first to get there, scoring the winner from close range.
Horsham flickered and had penalty appeals turned down for what looked a fair challenge by Wraight, and at the other end Wilkins’ clever volley was scraped away with the help of the bar by the home keeper.
With Richardson majestically controlling his defence, and Overland barking at everyone in his determination to keep the clean sheet, Sittingbourne held out comfortably.
1-0 to the Brickies. Again. And old rivals Faversham at Woodstock on Monday for the last home game of what’s been a mainly hugely enjoyable season.
Ken Medwyn's Photographs
Compilation Video by Ken Medwyn
76 minutes Gil Carvalho
Referee: Michael Ryan
Assistants: David Philp, Andrew Senior
Tom Brunt (Kane Philip 60 mins)
Jono Richardson (C)
Jake Embery (Sam Welch 85 mins)
Josh Wisson (Bradley Schafer 66 mins)
Substitutes not used: Nick Davis
Ashley Jones (C)
Scott Kirkwood (Adam Hunt 81 mins)
Alfie Rogers (James Thurger 79 mins)
Tony Nwachukwu (28 mins)
Substitutes not used: Mark Knee
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