Sittingbourne enjoy another visit to Pilot Field
Hastings United 2-2 Sittingbourne
Saturday 20 December 2003
Dr Martens League Eastern Division
Peter Pitts reports from Pilot Field
Sittingbourne came back from a two goal deficit to draw this game and continue their run of never being beaten at the Pilot field.
The game was played in a swirling wind and on a soaking pitch which made good football almost impossible. Referee Mr Faulkner had already called a game off at Lewes in the morning because of a waterlogged pitch but Hastings had spent a considerable sum in the summer to install a new drainage system and that expenditure paid dividends as even the torrential rain right up to kick off failed to cause any standing water. The pitch though was still very slippery and a number of players lost their footing during the game.
Hastings manager Steve Lovell has put together a young and enthusiastic team and after 12 minutes a long throw by Stuart Myall found Chris Honey whose pass into the area was met first time by ex Brickies youth player Carl Rook who hit a first time shot by Kevin Fewell to give Hastings the lead. A minute later Hastings Ryan Peters gathered the ball from a corner and his fierce angled shot gave Fewell no chance to save, and the lead was doubled.
Hastings were adapting to the conditions much better than Sittingbourne, playing a short passing game and taking on players whilst Sittingbourne were trying the long cross-field ball which inevitably fell short. Hastings continued to look dangerous and on 35 minutes a Ricky Spiller free kick from just outside the area was brilliantly tipped over by Fewell.
Four minutes later the Brickies equalised with a strange goal when a Kieran Marsh cross was kicked away by Mitchell Sherwood but the attempted clearance struck Russell Eldridge who was being pressurised by Michael Smissen and the ball rebounded into the goal.
The goal brought Sittingbourne well into the game and Smissen back headed the ball to Neal whose shot went just wide, then Marsh had a shot easily gathered by Greg Nessling in the Hastings goal.
Hastings started the second half well and early on Chris Honey fired a surprise effort just over the bar, then Fewell, who had a good game in the difficult conditions, tipped another effort over, this time from Spiller. Fewell was in action again when he did well to gather the ball after it had been blasted through a crowd of players.
Bradley Spice had replaced Kieran Marsh at half time and on 60 minutes he forced a corner from which a goal bound header was blocked on the line, but it was Hastings who were having the most efforts.
A good jinking run by ex Brickie Steve Hafner ended in him shooting wide, then on 65 minutes Carl Rook headed just over. Despite these chances Sittingbourne were looking much more comfortable with the elements and the game settled into a midfield phase, until with just six minutes to go a poor clearance by Jimmy Elford bounced off the keeper straight to Michael Smissen who had a simple tap in, and Sittingbourne were level.
Hastings were lucky when Bradley Spice seemed to be brought down by a Hastings player who was the last man, however the referee indicated that the player had got to the ball, a win for the Brickies however would have been poor reward for a spirited performance from Hastings and a draw was a fair result.
Sittingbourne: Fewell, Coyle, Dowley, Ainsworth, Campbell, Taylor, D Smith, Marsh ( Spice 46 mins), Neal, Smissen, Lye, Subs not used: Gooding, L Smith, Beeney.