Chatham Town 1-1 Sittingbourne
Dr Martens League Eastern Division
Thursday 1 January 2004
by Peter Pitts www.sittingbournefc.co.uk
In front of Chatham's largest crowd of the season Sittingbourne rescued a point by producing a strong second half performance capped by Darren Smith's first goal for the club this season.
Sittingbourne again shuffled the side as James Campbell was unavailable and Michael Smissen is injured. Lee Browning is still recovering from concussion. Danny Lye was on the bench after missing the Boxing day clash between the two clubs, and Bradley Spice came back into the starting line up.
The early morning rain had made the pitch very heavy and the home side mastered the conditions much quicker than the Brickies. On 10 minutes Danny Larkin whipped across a teasing far post corner which Kevin Fewell scrambled to tip over the bar. From the corner Kenny Dyer headed over from just under the bar. Eight minutes later the Brickies Darren Smith also produced a dangerous corner which sailed through a melee of players and hit the Chatham keeper Maurice Munden but then bounced harmlessly away.
Sittingbourne were having trouble stringing their passes together in this half whilst Chatham were running at them and causing all sorts of problems.
On 34 minutes an attempted Brickies defensive header went straight to an unmarked Andy Boyle but from a good position he crashed his shot wide. However two minutes later Chatham took the lead when Steve Best beat Kevin Fewell in a race for the ball and fired into the net.
Chatham were now well on top and a powerful shot by Kenny Dyer was parried back to him by Fewell but Dyer blasted the return over the bar.
With two minutes of the half left a Kevin Spriggs shot was palmed backwards by Fewell but the Brickies keeper just managed to scoop the ball away. The assistant on that side ruling that the ball hadn't crossed the line.
The second half was a complete turn round in fortunes as Sittingbourne had most of the play and Chatham were forced into kicking the ball anywhere. Whatever Mark Beeney and Steve Nolan had said to their players at half time worked and at last the large Brickies contingent in the holiday crowd of 412 had something to shout about.
Danny Lye replaced Kieran Marsh on 54 minutes for the Brickies and immediately this added more bite to mid-field. Three minutes later Clint Gooding took the ball to the bye line and crossed to the far post where Darren Smith was lurking and Smith made no mistake to fire a cracking shot past Maurice Munden. Sittingbourne were now pressing forward and a Danny Lye shot flew just wide.
On 77 minutes Bradley Spice passed inside to Jon Neal whose angled shot was palmed across goal by Munden.
Chatham weathered the storm and in the end a draw was possibly a fair result, however Brickies manager Mark Beeney was disappointed not to have picked up all 3 points following the spirited second half display.
Chatham Town: Munden, Binks, Larkin, Boyle, Driscoll, Best, Spriggs, Dyer, Hassett, Lombardo, Forster. Subs not used: Radbourne, Louis, Berkhauer
Sittingbourne: Fewell, Coyle, Dowley, Yorath, Ainsworth, Taylor, Spice, Marsh (Lye 54 mins), Neal, D Smith, Gooding (Ashmore 86 mins). Subs not used: L Smith, Ashmore, Beeney,
Cards: Yellow for Lye (Sittingbourne)