Wow! What an exciting, brilliant finish by Sittingbourne to score twice in added time and force a dramatic draw.
They’ve irritatingly had it done to them this season, conceding late goals to lose points, so they would know exactly how Carshalton felt.
The thing is, they so deserved this draw – it was a performance full of passion and determination to bounce back from the 5-1 humiliation from Greenwich Borough on Monday.
Manager Nick Davis would have been looking for a reaction from that, and he thrillingly got one as goals by youngsters Jake Embery and Josh Wisson pulled it back from 2-0 down with 90 minutes already played.
Davis rang the changes with Sam Welch back from suspension, the invaluable Conrad Lee available again, Anthony O’Connor recalled upfront and Josh Wisson getting a starting chance in midfield.
Out from the starting line-up went Stefan Wright, Hicham Akhazzan, Tom Carr and Connor Wilkins, with Jono Richardson given a new central defensive partner to follow Dan Tanner, Danny Rumbol and Carr, with Lee dropping back to take over. Which he did in his normal unflustered and sensible way.
They lost Tom Carlse, one of their best and most consistent players this season, early doors, suffering from an infection that had laid him low all week. In his place for an impressive debut came youngster Raphe Brown.
Sittingbourne started bravely, with O’Connor, Remell Davis and Hassan Jalloh all high up the pitch, pressing hard and running themselves into the ground.
They’ll pay for this later on I told myself – how wrong was I!
Carshalton, who have been in the league’s top six all season, played some pretty triangles on their immaculate 3G pitch and kept possession well but didn’t threaten a lot against Sittingbourne’s high energy commitment.
Simon Overland made a couple of good saves, and at the other end Davis hit one decent chance into the keeper’s arms, Jalloh saw an excellent shot saved at full length and Wisson’s effort was also kept out by the keeper.
Carshalton obviously weren’t happy with the way the half went as they made two half-time substitutions, and they were soon ahead, Aikhionbare smashing a shot home from the edge of the box after Kaba’s driving run from midfield.
Overland made another good diving save but was beaten from 25 yards on 72 minutes by a well-placed low shot from Sobowale, benefitting from the fact he wasn’t closed down quickly enough.
Carshalton slowed it down and looked to be holding on, but Sittingbourne determinedly pressed forward and a terrific Wisson pass from midfield slipped sub Jake Embery free to shoot past the keeper with exactly 90 minutes played.
The tails were up and Carshalton were panicking but only four minutes were signalled for added time, and we were into the sixth when Sittingbourne forced a corner. Surely their last chance … Up came Overland as all 22 players crowded into the penalty area. Lee hit his corner over all of them and Wisson thundered in from beyond the far post to head it unstoppably into the net. What drama.
Carshalton were annoyed with the referee for extending the time added on but they had only themselves to blame for some blatant time-wasting, and it was probably the first thing he’d given in Sittingbourne’s favour all afternoon.
It was the sort of exciting climax that will live long in the memory and renews your faith in football. Good on Sittingbourne – to go away to one of the leading teams in the division, play as well as they did on an unfamiliar surface, drop two goals, and still get a draw. That’s quite an effort.
Ken Medwyn's photographs are here CLICK HERE
Kingsley Aikhionbare 48 mins
Ronald Sobowale 71 mins
Jake Embery 90 mins
Josh Wisson 90 + 5 mins
Referee: Tristan Greaves
Assistants: Derrick Laing
Tom Carlse (Raphe Brown 15 mins)
Jono Richardson (C) (Yellow)
Josh Wisson (Yellow)
Tom Brunt (Hicham Akhazzan 78 mins)
Anthony O'Connor (Jake Embery 69 mins)
Subs not used: Bradley Schafer, Nick Davis
Paris Hamilton-Downes (C)
Peter Adeniyi (Yellow)
Jahmal King (Bobby Price 46 mins)
Mickel Miller (Ronald Sobowale 46 mins)
Brendan Murphy-McVey (Ryan Healy 66 mins)
Subs not used: Alexandros Kozakis, Jordan Hibbert
Praise Sittingbourne’s players for never giving up, and – again...
You could have breakfast, a spot of lunch, eat your dinner – and still...
What a season this is turning out to be as Sittingbourne saw off opposition...
With all due respect to Ashford United, Sittingbourne won’t have many...
Top of the league for the first time in 20 years – no wonder Sittingbourne...