Artificial pitch? No Problem. Three Sittingbourne players going off injured in the first hour? No Problem. Tom Loynes having to play at left-back for 30 minutes? No Problem.
Sizzling Sittingbourne outclassed Horsham to record their biggest win for nearly two years (since a 6-2 victory down the road at Peacehaven).
It took them up to a thoroughly deserved third place in Bostik League South, and with performances like this who’s to say where they could finish this season.
They were terrific going forward, far too good for Horsham’s wilting defence, and solid and determined at the back despite disruptions caused by injuries to Chris Elliott, John Coker and Ollie Brown.
Miles Cornwell got in his first full 90 minutes of the season, and celebrated with his first two goals, while Kane Phillip thrashed in a contender for goal of the season as Sittingbourne really rubbed in their superiority.
On the Lancing pitch they currently ground-share, Horsham had conceded five the previous week when Herne Bay knocked them out of the FA Cup and were obviously determined to be tighter this week.
But in beautiful Sussex sunshine on a smart artificial playing surface, they got away to a terrible start when Elliott’s near post corner in the second minute was headed on by Bola Dawodu and all captain Ben Gorham had to do at the far post was help the ball over the line.
Swarming forward with pace and no little skill, Sittingbourne hit the bar in the 11th minute through a Kane Rowland header and then went two-up 10 minutes later. Cornwell drove forward from midfield and stroked a perfect through ball for Dawodu to make it five goals in six games with a cool finish past the advancing keeper.
The rested Lex Allan was soon in the thick of the action as he came on as substitute central defender when John Coker got hurt, and Brown – who himself later went off injured - had to drop back to left-back as Elliott limped off at the same time.
Goalkeeper Daren Hawkes made a couple of smart saves, once dashing quickly off his line to smother a shot, as Horsham tried to establish a grip on the game, the first half ending in a flurry of yellow cards, two for each team.
The Sussex side continued to press forward in a desperate effort to get back into the game in the second half, but that was their undoing as Sittingbourne made it 3-0 with a classic breakaway goal. Sittingbourne cleared a corner and Phillip was still in his own half when he ran onto Cornwell’s through ball. His searing pace took him completely clear of any covering defenders, but just as he looked to shoot, Phillip unselfishly passed sideways for the supporting Cornwell to run it into
the empty net.
Horsham replied with an excellent goal, working the ball from left toright before O’Toole headed in the cross, and they might have got back to 3-2 when the same player headed a good chance powerfully over.
But Sittingbourne were far from done and got a beauty of a goal after 80 minutes. Gorham hit a fantastic diagonal 50-yard crossfield pass to sub Gil Carvalho, who beat his man and got to the byline before crossing to
the penalty spot. Phillip raced in from the opposite wing and met it first time with his left-foot, volleying in a proper net-busting shot.
A fifth goal wasn’t needed but Sittingbourne got it anyway, Cornwell’s shot going in off the keeper and the post as he first-timed a drive from the edge of the area from Dawodu’s pass.
What a five-star performance, and a result that will make the rest of the league sit up. Sittingbourne were irresistible going forward and have set very high standards for themselves. They’ve got pace, spirit, organisation and determination – the league table, even at this comparatively early stage of the season, doesn’t lie.
Ken Medwyn's video
Ken Medwyn's photographs follow
Gorham 3, Dawodu 21, Cornwell 57, 87, Phillip 81
Referee: Mr Alex Fisher;
Assistants: Mr Jacob Wright, Mr Tim Godfray.
Chris Elliott (Tyrone Guthrie, 27 min, Yellow card),
Ollie Brown (Gil Carvalho, 57 min),
John Coker (Lex Allan, 27 min),
Bola Dawodu (Yellow card),
Subs not used:
David Smith, Harry Brooks.
Steve Metcalf (Yellow card)
Darren Budd (Yellow card)
Matt Axell (Dan Mobsby, 26 min, Yellow card),
Charlie Oatway (Yellow card),
Rob O’Toole (Jack Newhouse, 81 min), Toby House (Yellow card) (Michael Waller, 75 min),
Subs not used:
Scott Kirkwood, Adam Hunt.
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