Sittingbourne’s season reached its peak on Easter Monday with that special dramatic late win over Faversham and the players celebrating in front of the fans afterwards.
This was just an anti-climax, South Park bringing the curtain down on the season with identical goals at the end of each half.
Not that Sittingbourne didn’t make a game of it – in the second half alone they had enough chances to win comfortably.
But they didn’t take them and at the end of the day they had to settle for a respectable 15th place finish at the end of what’s been a tough but enjoyable season. And, after all, it’s their highest total of points for eight years.
It was like a throwback to the 1990s with the players and fans travelling together to the match by coach, and Sittingbourne’s fans – as always – made their presence felt throughout.
South Park’s normal attendance was at least doubled for the occasion and there was probably a slight increase in bar takings as well.
There was a welcome boost for Sittingbourne with players forced out by injury including Conrad Lee, Danny Rumbol, Steven Ita and Dan Parkinson joining them on the sidelines.
Sittingbourne started with three at the back and it was an even first half with South Park probably getting slightly on top towards the end.
Keanu Williams created the best chance of the half for the Brickies, racing clear from halfway, but his disappointing finish didn’t match his speed on the break.
Sittingbourne had been coping well defensively but were undone just before half-time when a cross from the left was headed in by an unmarked Jackson from just a couple of yards out.
The tactics changed at half-time, reverting to the more usual four-man defence with Jake Embery on to join lone striker Williams up front.
Embery’s speed and cleverness on the turn terrorised the home defence. But he headed a great chance at the keeper, struck his shot against the keeper’s legs when going through one-on-one, fired into the side-netting when he probably should have passed and didn’t go down when he might well have won a penalty after being challenged from behind.
For all that he didn’t finish off his opportunities, Embery is a special talent and just one of the reasons to look forward with relish to next season.
It wasn’t just Embery that the chances fell to, as Gil Carvalho also got in behind the defence only to also have his shot stopped by the keeper’s
Just when it looked like a late equaliser was inevitable, with Sittingbourne attacking from all directions and constantly winning the ball back from South Park, the home side nipped up the other end and scored a second.
Again it was a cross into the six-yard box and a striker, Lavery this time, left with an easy chance to head the ball over the line.
Good effort, Sittingbourne, and here’s hoping their exciting blend of youth and experience will return to give it an even better go next season.
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44 mins: Joe Jackson
87 mins: Kieran Lavery
Referee: Mr J Pike
Assistants: Mr A Bradley, Mr L Martin-Cramp
Jono Richardson (C)
Callum Wraight (Jake Embery 46 mins)
Keanau Williams (Josh Wisson 66 mins)
Kane Philip (Sam Welch 56 mins)
Substitutes not used: Jason Ngandu, Nick Davis
Asa Rixon-Nicholls (Dan Moody 46 mins)
Kieran Lavery (C)
Chris Smith (Ben Senior 75 mins)
Joe Jackson (Kofi Quartey 66 mins)
Substitutes not used: Dale Burgess, Harry Knock
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