Sittingbourne’s two most recent games proved what we probably knew all along – that they’re too good for the teams below them and not good enough to beat the teams at the top.
Having comfortably seen off strugglers Chatham on Monday night, they went down to goals in the middle of each half by Ryman South leaders Tooting & Mitcham.
Having said that, Sittingbourne put up a brave and determined fight, and the two goals they did concede were both soft.
Tooting, with the best home record in the division, passed the ball around well, looked confident and organised, and for them they probably went home thinking it was simply a case of job done.
But it wasn’t one of those games where they were pummelling the goal and creating chance after chance, though admittedly they did hit the post twice in their best spell of the game early in the second half.
Sittingbourne can take a lot of consolation from the way they performed, and, after all, they’ve picked up enough points already this season to have secured a more than respectable mid-table position.
They were forced to make two changes for this trip to a chilly South London, with Jake Embery injured and Stefan Wright having surprisingly moved on to promotion-chasing Greenwich Borough.
With Josh Wisson showing what an all-rounder he is by taking over Embery’s role up front – think we were all wondering who was left to take on that job – Sittingbourne started well.
With plenty of reassuring support from their noisy fans, they were holding up well when Tooting were gifted a very poor goal to concede.
A long lump upfield fell between central defenders Jack Steventon and Jono Richardson, who otherwise had very good games, and as they hesitated, Tooting’s Dixon nipped in and just beat the advancing Simon Overland to the ball to roll it into the empty net.
Tooting were dangerous on the break but Sittingbourne recovered well from the setback and Tom Carlse swept the ball right across the goalmouth from Hicham Akhazzan’s pass without anyone getting a touch and when it came back in Connor Wilkins volleyed just wide.
Tooting twice hit the post early in the second half, with Overland just scraping the ball off the line as one of the chances bounced along towards the far post, but Sittingbourne were far from out of the game.
At the other end Wilkins couldn’t quite stretch enough to divert in Joe Loft’s cross and Akhazzan surprisingly wasted a golden chance when the ball fell invitingly to him on the edge of the area and he blazed it just over the far corner.
Worse followed for Akhazzan just a couple of minutes later as, helping out the defence, he was penalised for catching the ankles of a Tooting player who was running away from the goal. Such a soft penalty but Wilson blasted it home for 2-0.
Still Sittingbourne pushed on and the Tooting keeper had to touch over an Akhazzan cross as it headed into the goal, and from the resulting corner Akhazzan bounced the ball on top of the bar. And into injury time Wisson headed just wide from a cross by debut-making sub Jason Ngandu.
All in all, a decent, committed effort by Sittingbourne but it was Tooting who went home with the points to stay six clear at the top and on their way to the title.
Photographs by Ken Medwyn
Tooting & Mitcham Utd
20 mins Michael Dixon
69 mins Jordan Wilson (Pen)
Referee: Jonathan Creswick
Assistants: Orville Bentley
Jono Richardson (C)
Tom Brunt (Jason Ngandu 62 mins)
Joe Loft (Yellow)
Substitutes not used: Jake Embery, Jardel Bunda-Kamara, Nick Davis
Ashley Robinson (Yellow)
Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis (Kevin Maclaren 48 mins)
Sol Patterson-Bonner (C)
Michael Dixon (Jack Mazzone 85 mins)
Sandy Cunningham (Billy Dunn 62 mins)
Substitutes not used: Ollie Bennett, Bashiru Alimi.
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