Tony Rickson previews Walton Casuals v Sittingbourne

Written by Tony Rickson on 26th January 2017

After a three-week winter break, Sittingbourne look set to return to action on Saturday with an away match against Walton Casuals.

That’s partly because temperatures are set to rise, but mainly because Walton play home matches on the artificial pitch at Whyteleafe.

The teams met only last month when Sittingbourne won a 3-2 thriller against Casuals with one of their best performances of the season.

Walton are no strangers to high-scoring games and have won enough of them to earn a place among the promotion challengers, just three points away from a play-off place.

In recent weeks they’ve had some big wins, including beating fellow promotion hopefuls Cray Wanderers and Carshalton and even league leaders Tooting & Mitcham.

But on the other hand they’ve suffered some crushing defeats, losing

5-1 to South Park and 6-1 to Hythe, as well as a shock home defeat by struggling Godalming.

So you never know quite what to expect from Walton, though playing every other week on a 3G pitch obviously helps the home team while opponents try to adjust.

Sittingbourne have played on this particular surface before, and endured their first league defeat of this season at Whyteleafe, crashing

4-1 back in September.

And their most recent game before the spate of postponements was also on an artificial pitch, when they drew 2-2 at Carshalton.

That day they failed to score for the first 89 minutes before late strikes from Academy products Jake Embery and Josh Wisson gave them a hard-fought draw.

The performance of those two, plus the return to availability of a couple of others, gives manager Nick Davis probably his biggest pool of players all season to choose from.

Walton Casuals shared Merstham’s ground last season and when they were last at home to Sittingbourne they beat them 5-3 in a game when it’s fair to say attacks were better than defences.

Sittingbourne have drifted out of the top half of the table while they’ve been kicking their heels and manager Davis would love to start pushing back up there.

Completing a double over Walton Casuals would be as good a way as any to begin that campaign.

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