This season could well be remembered most for the youth team players Sittingbourne have successfully blooded in their first team.
The highly promising Jack Steventon has established himself as a valuable regular, scoring one here and making the other two goals, Josh Wisson wasn’t playing because he was on English Schools duty the previous evening, and then along comes Jake Embery.
He gave glimpses of his potential as a substitute in the recent League Cup semi-final and then came on for his debut as sub for the last few minutes in this game against Peacehaven.
And what did he do with his first touch? Spun on the ball and slammed in an excellent goal to clinch a comfortable home win for Sittingbourne.
From the team that lost after the long haul to Guernsey a week ago, Daniel Hughes and Jordan Wells returned and newcomer Adam Allen went straight into the side for his debut in midfield. Missing were the unavailable Miles Cornwell, the injured Hicham Akhazzan, the suspended Stefan Wright and Jono Richardson dropped to substitute.
Sittingbourne started at a high tempo and for 20 minutes tore Peacehaven apart. They’d won 6-2 against the struggling Sussex side just before Christmas and the visitors haven’t been any more successful since, picking up just one point from 15 games going into this one.
Peacehaven are clearly relegation favourites and Sittingbourne were on fire in this first quarter and emerged from it with a 2-0 lead that more or less killed the game.
After the impressive Allen got in a good early shot and skipper Tom Brunt had a 30-yarder saved, Sittingbourne took a 12th minute lead. A Peacehaven defender deflected Steven Ita’s free-kick to Hughes and when he drove it back across goal Steventon was in the right place to steer the ball in for his first goal at home.
Seven minutes later and Sittingbourne were two-up. Steventon followed up his own long throw with a pinpoint cross to the far post where the lively Tom Carlse was unmarked to head comfortably home, the second home game in a row in which he’s scored.
Sittingbourne were absolutely on top, pulling the Peacehaven defence out of position with some good attacking play, and Steventon was foiled by the keeper, Ita shot just wide and sub Michael Hurcombe – on for the injured Wells – had a clever shot on the turn well saved.
Just towards the end of the half Sittingbourne got just that bit sloppier in their play, but they still should have made it 3-0 seconds into the second half, Hurcombe going clear on Ita’s pass only for the keeper to rush out of his area and block the shot. It looked for all the world as if keeper Burbridge, a one-time Sittingbourne trialist, had used his arm to make the save but the referee ruled otherwise.
To be fair, it would have been unreasonable to expect Sittingbourne to have totally dominated for the whole game, even against weaker opposition than they usually face.
And they did take their eye off the ball a little bit, Peacehaven testing Adam Molloy for the first time in the 63rd minute and then pulling a goal back soon after when Marshall’s low drive took a deflection on its way past the keeper.
But Sittingbourne deservedly had the last word, clinching the victory when young Embery collected Steventon’s throw, and turned to hammer it in at the near post.
So once again – for the sixth time in a row – Sittingbourne had responded to a defeat by bouncing back to win the next game.
If manager Nick Davis is looking to start build a squad for next season already then there was plenty of cause for plenty of optimism in what was overall a convincing win.
SITTINGBOURNE 3 (2)
Steventon 13 mins, Carlse 21 mins, Embery 80 mins
PEACEHAVEN & TELSCOMBE 1 (0)
Marshall 66 mins
Mr Aji Ajibola
Mr Steven Perry
Mr Joe Kasper
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