The scoreline makes it look close, but it wasn’t. Sittingbourne outplayed local rivals Chatham all over the pitch and were superior in every department.
But they did this annoying thing, and by no means for the first time this season, of letting in a couple of late goals.
Suddenly a 3-0 stroll in the park becomes 3-1 and then 3-2 and it’s panic stations until the referee blows time.
Still, the last few minutes shouldn’t detract from what was a good all-round performance by Sittingbourne to end a run of nine matches without a win.
They were boosted by the return of Jack Steventon from a short spell at Faversham and in midfield Joe Loft was back after missing Saturday’s game and turned in a man-of-the-match performance against his old club.
On Saturday Sittingbourne began the match with Hicham Akhazzan putting a good chance over the bar, but this time his aim was low and true. It was only the second minute when a long throw from Stefan Wright was deflected onto him on the edge of the box and Akhazzan got what was unbelievably his first goal of the season for the club.
In rain that got heavier as the match went on, Chatham didn’t really have a lot to offer and Sittingbourne always looked dangerous going forward.
And they made it 2-0 just after the half-hour when the Chatham keeper flapped at a long punt forward by Steventon and Wright drove the loose ball through a crowd of players and in to the goal from outside the area. He, too, hasn’t scored for ages and this whole-hearted player’s celebration showed how much it meant to him.
Chatham, battling against relegation and staring their 10th game without a win in the face, made two changes at half-time to try to get on the ball more.
But it made little difference and captain Jono Richardson headed the third goal on the hour when he made space for himself at the far post to meet an Akhazzan corner.
Sittingbourne continued to look dangerous as they drove forward and young sub Bradley Schafer hit the top of the bar and forced the keeper to make a good save.
Chatham got what looked for all the world like a consolation goal when sub Jordan Gallacher, who impressed during what turned out to be only a short stay with Sittingbourne earlier in the season, headed home at the near post from a corner.
Deep into injury time he scored again with a low shot to make it 3-2 but Chatham’s rally had come too late to deny Sittingbourne a deserved three points.
They’ll face tougher tests – away to leaders Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday for one – but at least Sittingbourne have got a win under their belts in 2017 and life suddenly seems far rosier.
Photographs by Ken Medwyn
Jordan Gallacher 85 & 90 mins
Hicham Akhazzan 2 mins
Stefan Wright 32 mins
Jono Richardson 60 mins
Referee: Thomas Marshall
Assistants: Dean Markwick
Jono Richardson (C)
Stefan Wright (Yellow)
Hicham Akhazzan (Tom Brunt 80 mins)
Joe Loft (Yellow)
Jake Embury (Bradley Schafer 73 mins)
Josh Wisson (Connor Wilkins 70 mins)
Substitutes not used: Jardel Bundu-Kamara
Cameron Heffernan (Enoch Adjei 70 mins)
Freeman Rogers (Yellow)
George Benner (C)
Darren Marsden (Kyron Lightfoot 46 mins)
Ricky Freeman (Yellow)
Josh Bray (Jordan Gallacher 46 mins)
Substitutes not used: Jon Difford, Austin Edwrads
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