The weather was miserable and so too, I’m afraid, was the Sittingbourne performance. For the first time this season, I hasten to add.
They lacked cohesion, accuracy, and seemingly belief, and were outclassed by a South Park team whose previous game in midweek had ended in a 6-1 home defeat.
The result was by far Sittingbourne’s heaviest defeat of the season, the first by more than the odd goal, but worryingly the third in a row at home in the league.
From soaring up to second in the Bostik South League table on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run, Sittingbourne have gone off the boil so quickly and drastically.
They made four changes from the team that lost at Haringey Borough on Monday night in the FA Trophy, goalkeeper Daren Hawkes, defender Laurence Ball, midfielder Jidi Okimeji and winger Kane Phillip returning, with Harry Brooks, Tyrone Guthrie and Miles Cornwell dropping out and John Coker injured.
Surely the absence of Coker, who has been so brilliant for Sittingbourne in defence this season, wouldn’t affect them too much. But the result says otherwise – this was the first time in 28 league and cup matches this season they’ve conceded as many as three goals.
South Park started positively and missed some good chances in the first half, while Sittingbourne only slowly eased into the game and gave the ball away too much when they did get hold of it.
It looked all over a goalless first half until South Park built up beautifully from midfield, before crossing low from the right to the near post where Smith reacted quickest to steer it home.
Sittingbourne have trailed before at half-time in games this season and pulled it back, but this time South Park tore into them immediately after the break and took the game out of their reach.
Hawkes had to make two good saves straightaway but he was powerless to stop the visitors’ second, a header from Mazzone from a cross in from the left.
Two-down and to their credit Sittingbourne at least rallied a little bit with Chris Elliott giving them a bit of inspiration as a substitute midfielder.
But the door was shut on them when South Park cashed in on another chance midway through the half – two-down might just have been in reach but three was way out of the question.
At least they kept plugging away but either they didn’t have a chance worth making a note of, or my book got too soggy in the rain and it wasn’t worth taking out of my pocket to write in.
Everyone’s entitled to a bad game now and then – the trick is to put it behind you as swiftly as possible and rediscover the form that was previously so exciting.
It took a good side to beat Merstham, Hythe, Whyteleafe, Herne Bay(twice) … Sittingbourne can’t suddenly be a bad one.
42 Minutes, Chris Smith - South Park
50 minutes, Jack Mazzone - South Park
70 minutes, Chris Smith - South Park
Referee: Issac Searle (Dover)
Assistants: Val Anekwe (Bromley)
Wally James (Dartford)
Ollie Brown ((Tyrone Guthrie 20 mins (Yellow), Miles Cornwell 58 mins))
Ben Gorham (C)
Laurence Ball (Yellow)
Kane Phillip (Chris Elliott 58 mins)
Bola Dawodu (Yellow|)
Substitutes not used: Lex Allan, David Smith
Jake Gill (Yellow)
Tom Windsor (Yellow)
Josh Gallagher (Yellow)
Kieran lavery (C)
Substitutes not used: Daniel Stone, Ben Senior, Sam Renfry, Joe Jackson, Nathan Ayling.
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