Division One East
|Peter Pitts reports from Bourne Park
|Wingate & Finchley
Sittingbourne rue missed chances
SITTINGBOURNE manager Steve Lovell opted for exactly the same line up that put up such a good display against league champions Fisher Athletic in midweek and by and large the team didn't let him down as they produced a good display but will surely once again rue missed chances.
The match was preceded by a minutes silence in memory of Wingate's recently retired kit man Jack Fisk who died of meningitis just two weeks after giving up the kit man job.
Sittingbourne took an early lead when on 10 minutes a ball across the Wingate area was misjudged by the Wingate keeper Matt Davis and a defender allowing the ball to fall to Bradley Spice. Spice coolly took the ball on and finished with style from an acute angle.
The Wingate keeper was having a funny five minutes and a couple of minutes later he let a Jon Neal header slip through his hands but luckily for Wingate it only went for a corner.
From the corner James Campbell headed over from a good position in front of the goal.
Sittingbourne continued to enjoy supremacy and on 18 minutes good work by Neal led to David Cory crossing the ball towards Lee Browning but the onrushing young Brickies player just missed getting a telling toe on it. Cory then had a shot himself but the ball sailed over the bar.
Sittingbourne were playing some good "keep ball" although often the ball would go round in cycles instead of forward but it was frustrating Wingate & Finchley and for one moment it seemed that their Darryl Roach and captain Sam Sloma would repeat the Lee Bowyer / Kieran Dyer incident when they had words with each other!
Wingate's equaliser therefore came out of the blue when on 35 minutes the Brickies defence were slow to clear a cross from the left giving a chance for Roach to smash a shot past Brickies goalkeeper Kevin Fewell.
The goal shook the Brickies and Wingate came right into the game. A good run by Luke Smith ended in him blasting over the bar. There were huge gaps on the Brickies right and these were being exploited by Wingate.
On 39 minutes a Billy Ward cross into the Brickies area was brilliantly fired first time past Fewell to put the London side ahead and Wingate had succeeded in a complete turn round of the match.
A feature of this game was the friendly rivalry between the Brickies Barmy army and the Junior Barmy army both trying to out-shout each other.
The rivalry made for a good atmosphere and these surely must be the best and most vociferous supporters in this league (apart from Dartford) and the Wingate goal just made them support the Brickies even more.
The first chance of the second half fell to the Brickies when the lively Spice latched onto a Marsh cross but his shot cannoned off a defender for a corner. The Brickies were now right back in the match and on 65 minutes the smallest man on the pitch, Charlie Belcher, outjumped a Wingate defender to nudge the ball out on the wing to Spiller. Spiller fired a glorious ball infield to Neal who hit it first time past Davis for a deserved equaliser.
Three minutes later Wingate won a free kick which found Sloma but Sloma's shot went over the bar.
At the other end a Jamie Coyle ball nearly found Spice but Davis came out of his area to head the ball away.
On 73 minutes Neal blocked an intended clearance and passed to Spice who in a great position fired wide.
The game was now end to end and a long cross field ball from Paul Wood found Wingate substitute Danny Berg but he didn't quite control the ball and he fired wide.
Belcher won another header which this time found Ryan Peters, Peters found Lee Browning but he too fired wide from an excellent position.
The addition of Ryan Peters and Ricky Spiller as second half substitutes had added a new dimension to the Brickies and they were now looking comfortable although Wingate had one more attempt on goal but from a corner Berg headed the chance over.
Despite the Brickies having at least four golden opportunities to score there are no points awarded for having good chances but missing so a draw is probably a fair result.
Wingate & Finchley now go on to meet Fisher Athletic in Tuesday's London Senior Cup Final whilst Sittingbourne's next match is the last game of the season against Uxbridge who have already clinched a play off place.
Sittingbourne: Fewell, Coyle, Belcher, Ainsworth, Campbell, Gooding (Peters 62), Cory (Spiller 56), Marsh, Neal, Spice, Browning, Subs: Hodge, Ashmore