Tony Rickson previews Sittingbourne v Whyteleafe

Written by Tony Rickson on 30th August 2017

Two teams who haven’t lost in the Bostik League so far meet in Sittingbourne’s first home Saturday match of the season this weekend.
Visitors Whyteleafe have won all their three league games since the opening day of the season when they returned from title favourites Greenwich Borough with a creditable 1-1 draw. Meanwhile, Sittingbourne have won two and drawn two – though if they’d taken great chances in injury time in both the drawn matches they’d have won all four out of four!
Both teams, though, have gone out of the FA Cup at the preliminary round stage which is why they’re available to meet on Saturday – the great majority of teams in Bostik League South are involved in Cup-ties for a place in the second qualifying round. And both Sittingbourne and Whyteleafe lost to teams who play in a lower league, and after replays.
While Sittingbourne were beaten by Sussex side Pagham, Whyteleafe were going out in a replay penalty shoot-out to Erith Town – whose goalkeeper Adam Molloy is a very familiar figure here at Woodstock.
It’s been interesting to see how Sittingbourne’s team has evolved already this season – probably to the surprise of manager Nick Davis in some cases.
Harry Brooks has done excellently in goal as a replacement for Daren Hawkes and presents a real alternative. Youngster Lex Allan has grabbed the opportunity to play in central defence after the far more experienced Laurence Ball suffered a rib injury and the ‘Crouchy’ look-alike has impressed with his maturity, coolness and reading of the game. New signing Tom Loynes has provided an alternative at No 10 to Miles Cornwell, while Gil Carvalho, Kane Phillip and David Smith have had to share the two wide attacking places with one of them always missing out on a starting place.
Because so many teams are in Cup action, a victory for Sittingbourne on Saturday would take them up to second, while Whyteleafe, who arrive in third position, would go top with a win.
Sittingbourne have made a similar start to the season as last time, and by chance it was Whyteleafe who became the first team to beat them then, 4-1 on their own pitch in early September.
Later in the season Whyteleafe became one of the few sides to do the double over them when they won 3-0 at Woodstock.
The boot was on the other foot the previous season when Sittingbourne beat Whyteleafe both home and away – the home goals in a 3-2 win were from Hicham Akhazzan, Dan Hughes and Steven Ita. How quickly things move on!
Sittingbourne’s three midweek games so far this season have all drawn good-sized crowds, a fitting reward for a very useful start to the season.
Another good crowd on Saturday would be rewarded with what’s likely to be a competitive game between well-matched teams who ended last season next to each other in the final league table.

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