It’s hard to disagree with the fan on Facebook who said Sittingbourne were the better side over the two matches between these teams for a place in the final qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
But you get nothing for being the better team if the other side get the goal – and that’s exactly what Haringey Borough managed in this Monday night replay in North London.
Sittingbourne played really well, certainly in the first half, and their loyal-as-ever fans equally put as much into the game, but Haringey sure know how to pinch results.
They escaped with a draw at Woodstock on Saturday and they nicked this one on the break midway through the second half – and their superb record this season shows they know how to clinch games once they get in front.
After a superb run of results Sittingbourne are in a bit of a rut at the moment – they’ve only won one out of their last eight, and they’re averaging less than one goal scored a game.
They couldn’t blame the artificial pitch at Haringey – it played excellently and helped them play some pretty good passing football. Norcould they blame the referee, even though he seemed happiest when he was the centre of attention.
Their record of results this season in games just a couple of days after the other might be more significant – each of the three times they’ve played within 48 hours they’ve ended up goalless.
Sittingbourne changed their formation for the first time this season, bringing Ollie Brown and Tyrone Guthrie in and playing three in midfield, leaving out wide man Gil Carvalho. They also had Harry Brooks in goal for the working Daren Hawkes.
On a cool but hardly bitter night, Haringey started with a flourish, forcing four corners in the first six minutes, but Sittingbourne defended them well and began to play their way into the match.
The home side were happy to go deep in defence, so much of the time the ball was in the possession of Ben Gorham or the Sittingbourne full-backs with Haringey challenging them to somehow find a way to break them down.
Miles Cornwell had a shot tipped round for a corner and Sal Kisitu drifted a shot just over the bar, but the best chance came midway through the half when Haringey’s keeper Pajetat – so impressive in Saturday’s match at Sittingbourne – went down injured as he raced out for a through ball. Kane Rowland raced past the stricken keeper after the loose ball but two defenders got back to just squeeze him out.
The Haringey keeper was one of two of their defenders who went off injured in the first half but it seemed to make no difference to their resolute defending, even though Rowland was narrowly wide from
Haringey were pinned back and only escaped occasionally, and when they did Brooks made a terrific save diving to his left, just befor half-time.
At the interval, I really thought Sittingbourne were going to win it, but I was proved wrong, with Ben Gorham whacking the ball back dangerously close to his own goal in an early Haringey attack.
Halfway through the half and the pattern was the same with Sittingbourne having lots of the ball but unable to break down a stubborn and well-organised home defence.
Then they lost possession from their own free-kick in the opposing half and Haringey sensed blood and broke quickly. Gabriel, an impressive though it has to be said slightly irritating presence, raced into space against an under-manned defence and beat the advancing Brooks low at his near post for the only goal of the game.
It was a perfect position for Haringey and they held out for the win against a lot of Sittingbourne possession but not chances, John Coker going closest when his close range shot following a corner was deflected just over the bar.
A brave effort by Sittingbourne, but disappointing. It’s nice to know they can more than hold their own against the very best Bostik League North has to offer, but the FA Trophy dream is over after five varied but very enjoyable games.
Haringey Borough, Ralston Gabriel 68 mins.
Referee: Mr Neil West.
Assistants: Mr Peter Wilson,
Mr Piotr Zachwieja
Tyrone Guthrie (Gil Carvalho, 79 min), Bola Dawodu,
Kane Rowland (Yellow card),
Miles Cornwell (Kane Phillip, 62
min) (Yellow card),
Tom Loynes (David Smith, 73 min).
Subs not used:
Jidi Okimeji, Laurence Ball.
Valery Pajetat (Austin Byfield 27),
Michael O’Donoghue (Anthony McDonald 42),
Lawrence Yiga (Yellow card),
Scott Mitchell, Quba Gordon (Yellow card),
Daniel Aristidou (Michael
Ralston Gabriel (Yellow card),
Subs not used: Ayrton Coley, Joseph Benjamin.
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