That’s three draws out of three for Sittingbourne in their unbeaten start to the season but this one was very different to the two that had gone before.
For a start, Sittingbourne didn’t play as well, and this time they weren’t two-up with minutes to go only to lose hard-earned leads by conceding late goals.
But it was disappointing in different ways, as Hythe had to play all but six minutes with 10 men after their keeper was sent off early on.
They held on pretty comfortably and will feel massively confident going into Tuesday night’s replay given that they’ll have home advantage and it will be back to 11 v 11.
Sittingbourne suffered a blow before the game with goalkeeper Simon Overland failing a fitness test on the groin injury sustained during the previous Tuesday night’s 4-4 draw with Three Bridges.
In came 17-year-old youth team goalkeeper Adam Wallace, a big lad but obviously very inexperienced at this level though he did stand in for the suspended Adam Molloy a couple of times last season.
He did well, though, looking as cool as a cucumber throughout, not that Hythe troubled him a lot once they’d grabbed the lead on the half-hour.
The rest of the Sittingbourne side was unchanged from the team that had played the previous two games, though England Schools international Josh Wisson was on the bench for the first time, recovered from the broken arm he suffered while on trial at Millwall.
On a blustery day, Sittingbourne looked to have been handed a huge advantage with just six minutes played when Hythe goalkeeper Joe Mant stepped out his area to take a long ball through the middle with Remell Davis racing to close him down.
The referee harshly, though presumably correctly, judged it a red card offence and off went Mant, though in midfielder Sam Adams they had a more than adequate replacement who’d clearly done the job before.
Sittingbourne failed to make much use of the numerical advantage in the first half, too often running into trouble with the ball, and not making enough of finding space out wide.
Hythe sensed there was a goal in it for them and worryingly for Sittingbourne their twin strikers Frankie Sawyer and Alfie May both got clear for one-on-ones with Wallace.
May mishit his shot while Sawyer beat the keeper only to see Sittingbourne man-of-the-match Dan Tanner race back and clear it off the line.
But from the resulting corner, ex-Sittingbourne stalwart Nick Reeves found space in the six-yard box to easily put Hythe ahead. That means Sittingbourne have conceded the first goal in all three games so far this season.
Sittingbourne tried to edge their way back into the game but either side of half-time Remell Davis and Steven Ita blazed chances over the bar.
But they equalised on 50 minutes when a well-worked routine freed up Tanner to sidefoot home as Ita’s well-placed corner found him in the six-yard box. Pretty similar goal to Hythe’s really, and also scored by a central defender.
It was a case now of whether Sittingbourne could do enough to find a winner against a Hythe defence that was tough enough to get them into the promotion play-offs last season.
Davis had a shot cleared off the line when stand-in keeper Adams was beaten for once, Hicham Akhazzan neatly manouvered himself into space for just the sort of opportunity he’s scored many times from over the years but saw his shot blocked, and sub Wisson probably had the best chance when fellow youngster Jake Embery laid the ball off to him but he shot over the bar.
So it’s off to Hythe for the replay in midweek for Sittingbourne and all they know for certain is that their run of draws to start the season will have to come to an end one way or another.
Ken Medwyn's photographs are here CLICK HERE
SITTINGBOURNE 1 (0)
Tanner 51 mins
HYTHE TOWN 1 (1)
Reeves 31 mins
REFEREE: Mr Jack Packman
ASSISTANTS: Mr Piotr Zachwieja, Mr Marcin Indyk
Jono Richardson( C)
Jack Steventon (Wisson 60 mins)
Hicham Akhazzan (Brunt 76 mins)
Remell Davis (Embery 82 mins)
Craig Cloke (C)
Charlie Webster (Wilson 63 mins)
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