|Saturday 14 August 2004||Southern League
Division One East
|Peter Pitts reports from Bourne Park|
Sittingbourne pay the penalty and have to settle for point
Sittingbourne lined up against unfamiliar opposition in Bedfordshire side Arlesey Town, who were playing their first ever game in the Southern League, having played in the Ryman League Division 1 North in their last campaign.
The Brickies finished last season with seven wins out of their last eight games whilst Arlesey have suffered a number of player losses during the close season so the Brickies were favourites to win this one.
However, their usual failings in front of goal surfaced again and they even missed a penalty, couple that with the loss of new signing Dave Hassett after 17 minutes with a nasty looking eye injury then a goalless draw was probably inevitable.
Sittingbourne almost took a whirlwind lead inside the first minute when Tom Berry's cross was headed goal-wards by Clint Gooding but Arlesey keeper Nicholas Bussey did well to punch the ball clear.
The Brickies had another chance on 12 minutes when Dave Hassett ran through but he sliced his shot wide., five minutes later he went for the ball at the same time as Bussey and Hassett came out of the challenge clutching his eye.
Hassett was substituted and had to go to hospital with what looked like a nasty eye injury. Jon Neal, still not fully fit after his injury, replaced him.
Gooding was next to try his luck when on twenty minutes he received the ball from Berry but his shot was poor and easily gathered by Bussey.
Arlesey had taken a back seat but on 20 minutes Greg Pike ran through the Brickies defence only for a back pedalling Dean Hill to kick the ball off the line.
A minute later a long Arlesey throw found Stuart Beaver whose header bounced off the Brickies bar.
The game was now end to end but it was also punctuated by numerous free kicks which didn't help the flow of the play.
Jon Neal was doing his usual good work in holding the ball up well and on 26 minutes he latched onto a Jamie Coyle pass but saw his shot blocked.
Six minutes later the hard working David Cory found Clint Gooding who elected to pass when a shot may have been more appropriate, then Ben Taylor, who had a tremendous match, was inches wide with a crashing header from a Paul Manning cross.
The half ended with the Brickies still coming forward and a Cory drive whistled past the far post.
The second half began with a Paul Manning shot go just wide, then Berry was fouled just outside the area, Berry took the kick himself but the shot was blocked.
The game entered a scrappy period where both sides kept giving the ball away. Still though Sittingbourne were having shots and another Cory effort whistled across the goal line but there was no one on hand to get a touch to it.
On 77 minutes an Adam Douglas, Gooding, Cory move saw the ball fall at the feet of Manning but he sent his shot well over the bar.
Shane Campbell came on for the last quarter of the game and immediately the Brickies looked more threatening, Adam Douglas too had added something to midfield.
On 85 minutes Marsh sprinted into the Arlesey area only to be brought down by Nathan Beckett and referee Mr Venamore awarded a penalty.
Gooding took the kick only for Bussey to block the shot, the ball came back to Gooding but again Bussey performed miracles and blocked the shot.
There were no other chances in the match and Arlesey, who had made their longest away trip of the season, returned to Bedfordshire with a creditable draw.
The Brickies on the other hand will view this as two points lost rather than a point won.
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