Boosted by last Saturday’s excellent win over promotion-hunting Carshalton, Sittingbourne head to Sussex on Saturday for their last visit to the county for this season.
Opponents Horsham have a very good home record so it will be the start of a tough Easter weekend for the Brickies.
Forty-eight hours after that match they’re in action again, home to old rivals Faversham Town on Easter Monday, and manager Nick Davis might have to mix and match his resources in preparation for the double challenge.
Sittingbourne got the win over Carshalton thanks to a 75th minute goal by central defender Jack Steventon in what was a hard-working and determined performance all round.
The return of stalwart Jono Richardson to central defence after injury helped a lot and demonstrated how much the team had missed their captain.
Along with Simon Overland, Tom Carlse, Conrad Lee and Steventon, Richardson was one of five players in Saturday’s team who figured in the opening match of the season, back in August away to Cray Wanderers.
Two of that first day side, Miles Cornwell and Stefan Wright, have moved up to more lucrative deals, while the rest of the side have been subject to the sort of turn-around of players that happens all the time in non-league football.
Among the substitutes that day were three youngsters who have also become invaluable members of Sittingbourne’s squad all season - Danny Rumbol, Jake Embery and Connor Wilkins – though Rumbol has been out injured for a while. The other youth team product who has played an important role again this season is Josh Wisson, who missed the start of the season with a broken wrist.
So while Sittingbourne have had a backbone of stalwarts, supported strongly by a group of hugely impressive youngsters, they’ve gone far and wide to build the rest of the team.
In fact the number of players who have figured in league games for Sittingbourne this season has topped the 40 mark, which is almost certainly some sort of record.
But it’s all given manager Davis a strong idea of the sort of squad he’d like to have for next season, and which players he’d dearly like to take forward with him.
Horsham on Saturday will give him another chance to assess the current team’s strength, the Sussex side returning home on the back of a 3-2 away win last weekend in Guernsey.
They’ve had some impressive wins at home this year, beating both the top two, Tooting & Mitcham and Dorking Wanderers, the success over leaders and champions-elect Tooting ending a long winning run for them.
When the teams met at Woodstock back in September, Sittingbourne won an exciting match 3-2 thanks to goals by Cornwell (2) and Wright. The Brickies led 2-0 in that game, with Cornwell, in one of his last matches before joining Folkestone, hitting the winner after Horsham had pulled back to 2-2.
The last time Sittingbourne visited Horsham was in December 2014 when they lost 1-0, having previously lost there a couple of months earlier in the FA Trophy.
Horsham went down that season but bounced back from county league football to the Ryman League at the first attempt.
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