Sittingbourne turned in what I thought was their best performance of the season to see off top-six side Corinthian Casuals.
They played with character and determination, especially as they were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Stefan Wright was sent off.
The back four were tremendous with centre-backs Jono Richardson and Dan Tanner rock-solid and full-backs Sam Welch and Tom Carlse, often unsung heroes, terrific in defence and as well as in going forward.
All in all it was such an improved performance on Saturday when they lost disappointingly to a Guernsey side who weren’t a patch on Corinthian Casuals.
Sittingbourne again had to make a change in goal with experienced ex-Tunbridge Wells keeper, Slovakian-born Michal Czanner, coming in to replace Simon Overland, who got injured at Guernsey. He’s the fourth Number One Sittingbourne have had this season, well five if you count Danny Rumbol who stood in for the opening minutes of one game, or six if you include pre-season when Adam Molloy played. They also recalled Tanner in defence and Tom Brunt to wide right.
Casuals started well, full of pace and passing, and Czanner made a couple of good early saves to calm any nerves on his debut.
And it was Sittingbourne who took the lead on 19 minutes after a terrible hashed clearance by a Casuals defender. Steven Ita, week by week getting back to the form that made him such an asset last season, ran the ball at the retreating defence and at exactly the right time laid it off for Brunt to stroke home his first goal of the season.
It became much more end to end after that, Richardson forcing a good save from the keeper with a header from a corner and Joe Loft driving a shot over the bar.
At the other end Czanner made an excellent one-handed save to scoop the ball off the line and Casuals also hit the bar through Clark.
Sittingbourne got a vital second at the end of the half, Ricky Gundry finding Ita in the area, and after he dummied his way into space his low drive was diverted in by the hard-working Loft for his first goal for the club.
Casuals were certain to come back strongly in the second half and they were given a huge helping hand in the 49th minute when Wright got a straight red for a reckless tackle.
They pulled a goal back seven minutes later when a Sittingbourne attack unluckily broke down as the ball hit Welch’s heels, and Casuals whisked it down the other end where a left-wing cross was headed in by the smallest player on the field, Byatt.
Sittingbourne had to dig in, and they did, retreating slightly too deep sometimes but still looking dangerous on the occasional counter, especially when young subs Jake Emery and Josh Wisson got involved.
Casuals ended with 10 men themselves after a player was carried off when all three subs had already been used, and despite them seeing a lot of the ball they couldn’t really penetrate Sittingbourne’s stern defensive line.
Sittingbourne have had a bad habit this season of conceding crucial late goals but they rounded off an excellent night’s work by making sure they didn’t on this occasion to hold out for a welcome win after three home defeats in succession.
The win puts them back in the top half of the Ryman South table and should help them put an under-par October well and truly behind them.
Ken Medwyn's photographs are here CLICK HERE
Tom Brunt 19 mins
Joe Loft 45 mins
Jamie Byatt 59 mins
Referee: Mr Ryan Whittaker
Assistants: Mr Bobby Kwat, Me Paul Agboola
Jono Richardson (C)
Stefan Wright (Red)
Ricky Gundry (Yellow) (Josh Wisson 52 mins)
Steven Ita (Jake Embery 82 mins Yellow)
Jordan Gallacher (Yellow)
Subs not used: Hicham Akhazzan, Danny Rumbol, Nick Davis
Warren Morgan (Yellow)
Niall Wright (Yellow)
Brandon Johnson (Kevant Serbony 65 mins)
Juevan Spencer (Josh Uzan 60 mins)
Josh Gallacher (Ben Checklit 80 mins Yellow)
Subs not used: Terry Murray, Shaun Brown
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