Sittingbourne’s excellent current record faces a stern test on Saturday when they’re away to second-placed Dorking Wanderers.
They make the trip on top of the Ryman South form league having won five and drawn one of their last six games.
And it’s many years since a Sittingbourne team – apart from the successful youngsters – was top of any league table.
The Brickies have lost just once in nine and Tuesday’s exciting win over Walton Casuals was the fourth time this season they’ve beaten a team who were above them in the league at the time.
It took them back up eighth and just three points behind teams in the play-off places with half the season now gone.
After an even first half in which Walton grabbed the lead, Sittingbourne stormed back in the second half to win it with goals by Anthony O’Connor, Ricky Gundry from the penalty spot and captain Jono Richardson.
Walton, already down to 10 men after their captain was sent off for two yellow cards picked up for unfairly trying to stop the determined O’Connor, got a second goal in added time but it was too little too late for them.
Sittingbourne’s recent run is down to their organisation, their spirit and determination and the pace at which they attack, and has been helped by the opportunity to select an unchanged team.
They’d previously lost Miles Cornwell and Jack Steventon to other Kent clubs, and more recently have had to get by without the injured Steven Ita and Dan Parkinson, who has twice got hurt trying to make starts for his new club.
But O’Connor has been a terrific signing, earlier newcomers Joe Loft, Jordan Gallacher and Gundry have fitted in beautifully, Conrad Lee has successfully converted to an outstanding central midfielder, Simon Overland has proved an excellent signing in goal, full-backs Sam Welch and Tom Carlse have been a revelation, and Danny Rumbol has quietly proved a superbly promising cool young defender.
Which only fails to mention longer-serving stalwarts Jono Richardson, a tremendous leader, and never-say-die Stefan Wright, and has meant the other ‘evergreen’ player, Hicham Akhazzan, has been able to go off and get match time on a dual registration with Lordswood.
With all the squad on top of their games at the moment, Sittingbourne were praised in an internet blog by a ground-hopper at Lewes last Saturday who’d never seen them play before and thought them ‘street-wise.’
That’s a terrific compliment and they’ll need all that street-wise attitude again this Saturday, the second weekend in a row they’ve been away to one of the top-rated teams in the league.
Dorking reached the play-offs last season after finishing second and are challenging for the top again – they’re currently second to Tooting & Mitcham with by far and away the best defensive record in the division.
They won 4-2 at Hastings last Saturday though key striker Tom Tolfrey, who scored twice in that game, will miss the Sittingbourne match with a broken foot.
In Dorking’s last home league game, a fortnight ago, they suffered a shock defeat when Three Bridges, who have been right down the bottom all season, shocked them with a 1-0 win.
Last season Sittingbourne fought valiantly in the pouring rain for a
0-0 draw on this ground just three nights before Christmas, playing with
10 men for more than half the game after Cornwell was controversially red-carded.
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