Thursday 01st September 2005
Neal's brace helps Sittingbourne to an amazing Trophy triumph
Tooting & Mitcham United 1-2 Sittingbourne
FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Saturday 4 October 2003

This was an amazing victory for Sittingbourne, after an absolutely awful start in which they could have been three goals down within five minutes.

The Brickies were without the unavailable Joe Dowley and the injured Clint Gooding, Matt Nicholl kept his place and Paul Davies came in for Bradley Spice who was on the subs bench.

The pre match talk had been about two teams who have problems finding the net but  Tooting began the match looking like a side who would score a hatful of goals. After just 15 seconds  Tooting's Dean Worsfold fed a ball through to the unmarked Shane Graham just 10 yards from the Brickies goal but amazingly he shot wide. Two minutes later James Lasbrey set up Steve Darlington with a great chance but again the shot was fired wide.

Just when the Brickies fans were thinking the worst must be over another defence splitting ball through to Graham  ended in the Tooting striker firing the ball into the net wide of the diving Kevin Fewell  to give the home side a  lead after just five minutes.

Sittingbourne were at sixes and sevens and seldom have I seen their defence split open so easily. Three minutes after the goal Fewell was in action to block a shot from Husani Thomas.

The Brickies just couldn't get going and Tooting keeper Tommy Dunn was largely a spectator. It was fully half an hour before they began to settle but even so Tooting were the ones who continued to look the more dangerous, particularly with  high balls into the Brickies penalty area.

Sittingbourne began the second half much more confidently and on 51 minutes Tom Berry, who was carrying an injury, was replaced by Lee Browning. Two minutes later Tooting had a free kick just outside the Brickies area. The kick rebounded to Darren Smith who slotted a marvellous through ball to Jon Neal who raced away outpacing the home sides defence and fired past Tommy Dunn to put the Brickies level. This amazingly was their first shot on goal and only their second shot all afternoon.

Tooting were stunned and four minutes later Steve Darlington headed a corner just wide of Fewell's goal, then on 62 minutes from another corner a Tooting player crashed a header against the Brickies left hand post. Despite these near misses Sittingbourne were playing confidently and were well and truly back in the game.

Mark Beeney added Bradley Spice to the mix in place of Matt Nicholl on 63 minutes and from that moment the Brickies took control of the game.

On 69 minutes Lee Browning headed the ball onto Paul Davies who in turn flicked it towards Jon Neal. Once again Neal sprinted away from the Tooting defence and fired a peach of  a shot past Dunn to give the Brickies the lead.

Tooting had no response and 3 minutes later a Jamie Coyle free kick was glanced just wide by Lee Browning. It was all Sittingbourne and a great move ended in Darren Smith just failing to get good contact on a Paul Davies pass and the effort went just wide. On 76 minutes Paul Davies himself had the next shot but Dunn blocked it well.

Tooting had no answer to this revitalised side and Sittingbourne easily weathered the last quarter of an hour to avenge the 5-4 Tooting and Mitcham Victory at Central Park in the FA Cup of 1996.

Sittingbourne travel to Burgess Hill Town in the first round on November 1st.

Sittingbourne: Fewell,  Coyle, Berry (Browning 51 mins), S Davies, Campbell, Taylor (C), Nicholl (Spice 63 mins), Marsh, Neal, Smith, P Davies (Hidson 90 mins),  Subs not used: Beeney