Throughout a fantastic October which left Sittingbourne boss Nick Davis hot favourite to become the division’s manager-of-the-month his team showed a glimmer of weakness.
They struggled to score in home matches against teams who defend well and stubbornly – so much so that they could only draw their previous three home games.
And it looked for all the world as if it would happen again as Phoenix Sports held them well and seemed on course to escape with an honourable point from a goalless draw. But they went one better, breaking from defence in injury time to snatch
an unlikely winner and end Sittingbourne’s phenomenal 11-match unbeaten run.
So, welcome to November which had already begun badly when Davis was somehow overlooked for that monthly honour despite his team’s five wins and three draws in a hectic and successful October.
The month had ended with a stunning win away to higher-division Merstham in the FA Trophy on Tuesday night, and it was probably unrealistic to expect Sittingbourne to rise to quite that level again.
On a dull autumnal day, their passing often wasn’t quite as sharp and although Kane Phillip and Tom Loynes produced plenty of enterprise down the flanks, chances created were few and far between.
Sittingbourne kept the same team as Tuesday for this first ever match against Phoenix, who have made a very steady start after being switched from Bostik League North in the summer.
Goalkeeper Harry Brooks made a couple of good early saves, and when he was rounded by Pattison in the 25th minute following a defensive mistake, John Coker was back in time to clear the resulting shot away
from the gaping goal.
Both teams got the ball in the net in the first half with headers from corners, but each time the referee had already blown up for fouls.
You always fancy Sittingbourne to turn it on in the second half, and they started positively with David Smith’s header from a Loynes’ corner almost going over the line before keeper Phillips got back to scoop it away.
Sittingbourne were at their most dangerous from corners, with Coker twice failing to hit the target when a goal looked on, and captain Ben Gorham missing his chance with a free header at the far post.
But it was yet another Sittingbourne corner that proved their undoing as the game went into added time. Phoenix cleared it quickly down the left, Tyrone Guthrie stumbled as he tried to clear, and sub Allen ran through unchallenged from near halfway to beat Brooks with a neat finish.
Late goals have brought Sittingbourne so much success this season, it was ironical to see Phoenix do a job on them – hoist with their own petard, I think the expression is.
Games are still coming thick and fast and Sittingbourne, who dropped from second to fifth as a result of this defeat, have a very quick opportunity to get their season back on course with the visit of Faversham on Tuesday night. It was Faversham, of course, who inflicted their only other league defeat of the season before this game, so atoning for that would be more than welcome.
Michael Sayce's Photographs follow
90mins Ben Allen Phoenix Sports
Referee: Kane Dempster
Assistants: Joseph McKay
Ben Gorham (C)
John Coker (Yellow)
Kane Rowland (Lex Allan 88 mins)
David Smith (Miles Cornwell 72 mins)
Tom Loynes (Gil Carvalho 64 mins)
Subs not used: Jide Okimeji, Ollie Brown
Ryan Andrews ( Yellow)
Ashlet Probets (Yellow)
Zak Bryon (Yellow)
Danny Young (Yellow)
Onoriode Ogboe (Luke Miller 66 mins)
Jeff Duah-Kessie (Ben Allen 80 mins)
Subs not used: Alfie Aldridge, Danny Phillips, Conrad Lee.
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