Such a shame that after a good run of away games from which they got six points out of nine, Sittingbourne should return home in front of their own fans and disappoint.
Perhaps it was that run of away trips that had sapped their energy, because certainly in the second half they just couldn’t battle their way back into the game as Three Bridges comfortably kept them at arm’s length.
So their search for a Saturday afternoon win in 2016 goes on, and opponents Three Bridges have a done a job on them this season, completing a double after winning narrowly 1-0 at home in October.
Three Bridges are only a mid-table team who came to Woodstock on the back of a humiliating 6-0 home defeat, but they know what they were good at. Defending stubbornly, breaking quickly and managing the game – they did it all successfully.
Without Ollie Bankole and Dan Hughes, Sittingbourne brought back Josh Wisson and Jordan Wells into the team that won very competently at East Grinstead in midweek.
On a blustery and grey day, they started well and took the lead as early as the fourth minute, their earliest goal of the season.
Hicham Akhazzan sent Miles Cornwell racing into space down the right and when Josh Wisson’s shot from his low cross was blocked, Jordan Wells was handily placed to score from the rebound – his first goal since that sensational late hat-trick against Ramsgate in the final game of last year.
Three Bridges immediately responded and won a free-kick just a few yards out when Adam Molloy picked up a close-range back pass. But it’s such an unusual place for a free-kick they didn’t seem to know what to do with it and wasted the chance.
But they knew exactly what to do with their next chance, equalising with just 10 minutes played. Sittingbourne piled forward for a Jack Steventon throw-in into the six-yard box, but looked to have left themselves short-handed at the back as Three Bridges won possession and raced upfield. The ball was played in low from the right and the experienced Garrod swept in the ball first-time.
Steven Ita seemed much less effective than of late after picking up an early booking, Wisson didn’t get as much of a look-in as usual, and Sittingbourne generally created much less than in previous home games.
Ita hit one corner that went right across the goal area with nobody getting a touch on it as Sittingbourne gradually re-established some control after a mid-half wobble when Three Bridges were on top.
But the visitors scored again in the final minute of the first half and it proved to be the winner. Again it was a quick breakaway, catching Sittingbourne out of shape after Callum Naessens’ pass was cut out a long way up the field. Three Bridges counter-attacked quickly and when the ball fell kindly for Godfrey he smashed it into the corner.
Sittingbourne lost Tom Carlse, who was making his home debut, early in the second half, kicked out of the game by a late challenge that went unpunished by a lenient referee apart from a free-kick.
It was Three Bridges who made the much brighter start to the half with a couple of great chances going begging, but Sittingbourne gradually got back into the game without, frankly, creating very much.
They could no longer get Cornwell and Wells running in behind the defenders, who dropped very deep, and the creativity to get round them was lacking.
For me, youngster Steventon worked hardest of all to try and get his team back into it, showing leadership and determination in an ultimately unsuccessful quest for an equaliser.
He did hit one great ball over the top for Akhazzan to latch on to, but the chance was smothered away, and when sub Jono Richardson got a shot on target it was straight at the keeper from 20 yards.
All in all, a disappointing result – and performance – by a Sittingbourne side who have mainly impressed in recent weeks.
Inconsistency is said to be a mark of a young side who are learning as they go along, but they’ll want to do better than this in the important next couple of games – at Tooting & Mitcham next Saturday followed by the much-anticipated League Cup semi-final away to Faversham on Tuesday week.
SITTINGBOURNE 1 1)
Wells 4 mins.
THREE BRIDGES 2 (2)
Garrod 10 mins, Godfrey 45 mins
Mr Thomas Marshall (Eltham)
Mr Andrey Laschikov (Battersea)
Mr Luke Donaldosn (Tooting)
Team info to follow soon
Team info to follow soon
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