Division One East
|Peter Pitts reports from Bourne Park|
|Barton Rovers||1||Barnes 8|
Brickies move up one place with comfortable victory
Sittingbourne had new signing Pat Mullin from Dover Athletic in goal and another new face, also from Dover in Jack Tanner on the bench.
David Cory is still injured and likely to be out for some weeks and so with Dave Hassett also starting on the bench Bradley Spice joined Jon Neal up front.
Sittingbourne haven't be renowned this season for making much of dead ball kicks. However, in this game it was their prowess at such kicks which won the game.
Barton Rovers, in their first visit to Sittingbourne, started much more brightly than the home side and on 8 minutes they deservedly took the lead.
James Campbell and Kieran Marsh failed to clear the ball and Paul Barnes nipped in to fire a shot past Mullin.
Barton continued to press whilst Sittingbourne were making hard work of the game and were having problems finding their front players.
Barton's Gordon Guile was just dispossessed at the last moment by Dean Hill then a Neil Morgan free kick was hit just wide.
It took Sittingbourne almost half an hour to find their way but at last there was hope as on 27 minutes Shane Campbell forced a corner.
Sittingbourne then won a succession of corners which were all being safely dealt. Adam Douglas then changed tactics and instead of pumping the ball into the area this time hit a short one which
found Manning, Manning in turn found Jon Neal lurking in the area and the Brickies top scorer made no mistake as he smashed an unstoppable shot into the Barton net to pull Sittingbourne level.
Three minutes later Marsh was tripped 8 yards outside the Barton area. Douglas dummied to take the kick but in came Manning who sent in a curling free kick right into the top right hand corner of the net giving Barton goalkeeper Thomas Eliot no chance to save.
This was a spectacular goal that would have graced the Premiership!
Barton tried to hit back and had a free kick cleared for a corner but Sittingbourne were now showing much more urgency and spurred on by the home crowd, which included a sizeable and noisy contingent from Woodcoombe Youth FC and Minterne Junior School, the home side began to take control.
The second half see-sawed backwards and forwards but it was Sittingbourne who were looking the class act when they came forward.
On 51 minutes Bradley Spice had a shot go just wide and at the other end Simon Catmur saw his header go wide.
The pace of the game seemed to increase which suited Sittingbourne perhaps more than Barton.
On 71 minutes the Brickies had a number of chances to get a shot in but finally Neal produced a bicycle kick which was deflected for a corner.
Then Sittingbourne won a free kick which was cleared, but only as far as Paul Manning who sent in a shot which Eliot seemed to see only at the last minute.
Sittingbourne continued to press and Jamie Coyle was unlucky when his header was cleared off the line with the crowd already shouting "goal".
Dave Hassett replaced Spice on 80 minutes and he almost scored with his first touch but Eliot made a despairing diving save. Then Lee Browning made a good run and forced a save from Eliot.
Barton were unable to raise their game and Sittingbourne ended the match as comfortable winners and move up one more precious place in the league table.
Sittingbourne: Mullin, Coyle, Hill, Manninmg, J Campbell (Douglas 12 mins), Ainsworth, S Campbell, Marsh, Neal, Spice (Hassett 80 mins), Browning, Subs: Gooding, Tanner, Fewell