Two well-matched teams protecting long unbeaten runs fought out an honours-even goalless draw.
That much will soon be forgotten. What will stick rather longer in the memory, unfortunately, is a pretty dreadful pitch battle at the end when
players simply lost their heads.
One from each side was sent off, but far from ending the trouble, it just sparked an even worse incident after Cray’s Rhule punched
Sittingbourne’s Chris Elliott as the pair trudged off.
Players from both sides rushed to start separate fights, though to be fair some were trying to break them up, and then both benches raced on,
hopefully to try to stop the mayhem.
Eventually, and it took an awful long time, law and order was restored with the referee ending the match and both sets of players leaving the
So an evening that had promised much between two in-form Kent sides in the top five in Bostik League South ended in mayhem.
The game itself was dominated by well-organised and efficient defences, with Sittingbourne’s John Coker and his opposite number in the Cray
team, the aptly-named Leader, the outstanding players on display.
Sittingbourne made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Chipstead on Saturday, Harry Brooks replacing Daren Hawkes in goal, and
Tyrone Guthrie in midfield in place of Lawson Okimeji.
Hard-working Miles Cornwell thrashed an early 20-yarder just too high but at the other end Rhule thundered his 10th minute shot against the
bar, though that turned out to be the closest Cray got all night.
Brooks made a very good save from a Power header when the big Cray striker for once lost his marker, but chances were few and far between
though a pacy game ebbed and flowed from end to end.
There was a precedent for what happened later on when a 32nd minute tackle by Bola Dawodu sparked a melee, with lots of pushing and shoving
making it impossible for the referee to sort out the bad guys from the good ones.
Sittingbourne dominated the second half, always going forward, always pressing high up the pitch as Cray determinedly kept possession at the
back and constantly tried to play their way out.
Dawodu went close and Tom Loynes fired in a short corner that was headed off the line as Sittingbourne drove on in search of the sort of late
goal they so enjoyed scoring on Saturday.
But Cray, who like Sittingbourne have now gone nine matches without defeat, were well organised, too, and snuffed out everything that came
So to the climax when with the three added minutes already played, Elliott tackled Cray’s Rhule, who reacted violently to the challenge.
In came players from both sides to spark a fracas that ended with the referee sending off the two originally involved – though I’m not sure
what Elliott hd done to deserve this.
Rather than dismissing them separately, the under-pressure ref showed his red cards to each player one straight after the other, and it was
they headed reluctantly off the pitch, the violence erupted.
Sittingbourne’s discipline has generally been excellent this season and the hope is that the lesson learned from this night is not to get so
involved again, even when a teammate’s in trouble and needs support.
They’re still unbeaten in the league at home this season, and this point took them back up to second in the table, so there’s so much more to be
Referee: Mr Joseph Stokes; Assistants: Mr Daniel Procter, Mr Matthew
Chris Elliott (Red card),
Tyrone Guthrie (Yellow card) (Jide Okimeji, 45 min) (Ollie Brown, 90
Bola Dawodu (Yellow card),
Kane Rowland (Yellow card) (David Smith, 58 min),
Miles Cornwell, Gil
Carvalho (Yellow card).
Subs not used: Lex Allan, Kane Phillip.
Jay Leader (Yellow card),
Aaron Rhule (Red card),
Jerome Frederico (Timi Osibodu,
Subs not used: Michael Frieter, Anthony Adesitt, Joe Vines.
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