This goalless draw meant Sittingbourne completed their first four Bostik League games of the season unbeaten – with two wins and two draws. Highly respectable, of course, and exactly the same as their total at this stage of last season.
But there was a strong feeling that this was a couple of points short of what they should have had, especially as newly-promoted Ashford came to Sittingbourne without a point and after conceding five goals on their own pitch just 48 hours earlier.
Sittingbourne had a couple of efforts cleared off the line, and also hit the bar near the end, but generally their finishing wasn’t accurate enough with too many chances blazed over the bar.
Even though it ended 0-0, neither keeper really had many saves to make, though to be fair this was a second tiring game in 48 hours for both teams, and this one was played out in a stifling near 30 degree heat.
Sittingbourne had to shuffle their team after Saturday’s excellent 2-2 draw at Lewes, with Laurence Ball out with damaged ribs, and Ollie Brown and Kane Phillip sitting it out with knocks, though both impressed as
second half substitutes. Harry Brooks kept his place in goal after an impressive debut, even though Daren Hawkes was fit.
The injury jinx extended into the game with midfielder Tyrone Guthrie hobbling off early on, Tommy Loynes having to drop back into midfield on his return after rejoining Sittingbourne on Friday.
Ashford seemed to show no ill effects from their traumatising start to the season and had the best two chances of the first half, Howland hitting a great chance over the bar and Kingwell advancing from the back before narrowly missing the far post. Brooks also made a good save from a powerful 25-yarder by Woodcock.
At the other end Chris Webber volleyed over, Kane Rowland had a header
cleared off the line, David Smith shot narrowly over the bar and Gil Carvalho just failed to make contact with a low Rowland cross into the six-yard box.Just as in the previous home game when Sittingbourne failed to break down a packed Pagham defence in the FA Cup, it was tough going to create chances for a while in the second half. But the introduction of the elusive Phillip caused extra problems for
Ashford and the chances began to flow. Carvalho had a shot cleared off the line, Rowland had a header deflected over the bar, Phillip shot narrowly wide, Miles Cornwell had his effort blocked as he closed in on a great chance and Ben Gorham hit the bar
with a lob.
But the chance of the game went to Cornwell deep into the eight minutes of added time, timing his run beautifully to meet Carvalho’s cross only to head over from close range.
After a high tempo game on Saturday, it was asking a lot for Sittingbourne to match that intensity again, and in such warm weather. But they finished with a flurry and in the end they failed to take all three points because although they created sufficient chances their finishing wasn’t as clinical as it needed to be.
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Match day programme
Referee: Joseph Stokes
Assistants: Andrew Simmonds, Liam Giles
Tyrone Guthrie (Miles Cornwell 7 mins)
Ben Gorham (C)
Kane Rowland (Kane Philip 70 mins)
Tom Loynes (Ollie Brown 67 mins)
Subs not used: George Blake, Daren Hawkes
Luke Eldridge (Lee Ades 90 mins)
Brandon Williams (Matthew Day 67 mins)
Callum Howland (Thomas Penfold 46 mins)
Subs not used: Richard Avery, Harry Lavender
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