Thursday 01st September 2005

Lovell: A game of two halves


Saturday 1st
October 2005

Southern League
Division One East

Stephen McCartney reports from
Bourne Park



Bradley Spice 45

Boreham Wood


Ryan Moran 52


Boreham Wood central defender Ryan Moran became the first visiting player to score a goal in the Southern League at Bourne Park this season when his 52nd minute equaliser denied battling Sittingbourne victory over the league leaders, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 23-year-old was on hand to rifle the ball into the net from close range, inside a crowded goal-mouth, after the Kent side failed to clear Michael Black's corner.

That was the first time the Brickies have conceded a goal on home soil after 412 minutes of Southern League football.

The battling Brickies, however, scored on the stroke of half-time, when striker Bradley Spice netted his second goal of the campaign.

But Boreham Wood camped themselves inside Sittingbourne's half for the rest of the game and were denied twice by the woodwork late on.

The Kent side went close to opening the scoring after five minutes when top scorer Mark Lovell - with 9 goals - squared the ball to Clint Gooding - via a deflection - and he raced towards the penalty area.  His cross, however, just evaded an unmarked Spice, close to the penalty spot, and the ball went harmlessly out for a goal kick.

Chris Bangura was twice denied by Brickies' goalkeeper, Steve Williams before former Dover Athletic man Ricky Spiller latched onto a headed clearance - following Lovell's cross from the right - but his 25-yarder sailed over.

Boreham Wood's Ian Cooper impressed during the game, and he almost gave the visitors the lead when he latched onto Bangura's flick but his shot sailed agonisingly wide with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.

Sittingbourne manager Steve Lovell got his tactics - especially in the first half - spot on.  Welling United defeated Boreham Wood 2-0 in the FA Cup last weekend in Hertfordshire and Lovell spoke to Wing's boss Adrian Pennock last week to get some inside knowledge on the opposition.

And the Brickies almost took the lead direct from Peter Taylor's corner kick in the 34th minute, but the ball bounced off the top of the far post with goalkeeper Noel Imber stranded.

And the 28-year-old goalkeeper dived spectacularly to deny Spiller, whose shot from just outside the penalty area was plucked out of the air.

But on the stroke of half-time the Kent side took the lead.

Black's corner drifted out to the edge of the penalty area and was picked up by Browning, who drove towards the centre circle, and played the ball to Lovell, who did ever so well to keep possession in midfield.

The former Gillingham striker sent Spice on his way down the left hand side, and with Browning jetting off unmarked on the other side of the box, he choose to ignore his team-mate but carried on with his run and from eight yards shot across Imber and inside the foot of the far post.

But sadly, the second half was a different story as the visitors were camped inside the Brickies half and equalised seven minutes after the interval through Moran - and had chances to go on and win the game.

Bangura, however, escaped a second yellow card - having been booked after 27 minutes for dissent - when, on the hour mark, he collided with goalkeeper Williams, who plucked a cross out of the air, but despite the home faithful demanding a sending off, the striker escaped with a warning.

With 17 minutes left Paul Burrows lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper but his shot went agonisingly wide of the far post, before his low centre to the far post evaded substitute Gary Wooton and Marvin Samual could only poke it wide from just two yards out.

Bangura twice struck the woodwork late on and Imber, who didn't have a lot to do during the second half - came up field to take a 30-yard free kick, which was comfortably dealt with by his opposite number, and at the other end shouts for a penalty fell on deaf ears when visiting skipper Mark Smith bundled Spice to the ground on the by-line.

All in all, Sittingbourne manager Steve Lovell told that he was pleased with his players performance.

"Like I said, they're not top of the league for no reason at all and I was just pleased we knocked it about first half, like they (Boreham Wood) did in the second half," the Welshman said.

"We had two or three chances as well first half, as they had (most possession) in the second half, but I'm pleased.

"I thought it was a game of two halves.  There were two different halves that we played.  Football in the first half and battling where we dug in and we defended quite well in the second.

"Apart from the goal, where I thought we had three chances to get rid of it, I've got to hold my hands up and say everybody battled and fought hard .

"They're top of the league and have only lost once all year and are a big, strong, physical side and they had to play."

Lovell revealed his players were disappointed inside the dressing room after the game, knowing they could have taken all three points.

"We were hanging on, wanting to get a point because they're league leaders and you can understand (our players) getting a bit tense and nervous, but we've got to learn through that," he said.

"(the players) are pleased with a point but disappointed we threw the game away like the way we did."

Lovell takes his side to Stamford next Saturday, and hopes today's battling performance puts them in good stead.

"Today was a good battling performance, a good point and something we can work on," he said.

"I am very pleased with the way we played during the first half but the only critical thing is we didn't do it second half - but we couldn't get out of our half."

Looking ahead to their trip to Stamford - with their coach departing Bourne Park at 9:30am - Lovell added: "I'm not bothered about other teams, if we can play like we can do. I think we can give most teams in this league a game.

"We came into today's game confident.  Perhaps a year ago, the boys would have worried playing a top of the league side, hoping to keep it down to two goals.

"But the mentality's changed, we wanted to win the game, and they are disappointed today that we've only come off with only one point where as realising a draw was a good result in the end with the pressure they had in the second half.

"If I was their manager I'd be disappointed with a point with all their pressure but you've got to give credit to us with the way we defended."

Sittingbourne: Steve Williams, Ricky Spiller, Joe Dowley, Paul Ainsworth, James Campbell (Capt), Kieran Marsh, Lee Browning (Mitchell Sherwood 45), Clint Gooding, Mark Lovell, Bradley Spice, Peter Taylor (Richard Styles 53).  Subs: Dan Edwards, Jon Neal, Peter Davies

Boreham Wood: Noel Imber, Lee Harvey, Ryan Moran, Tommy Williams, Mark Smith (Capt), Michael Black, Marvin Samual, Ian Cooper, Chris Bangura, Jamie Hazell (Gary Wooton 76), Paul Burrows.  Subs: Denis Paratusic, Joe O'Brian, Leon Townley, Callum Horton (GK)

Attendance: 231
Referee: Mr S Daly (London SE18)
Assistants: Mr I Regan (Ashford) & Mr C Clarke (Ashford)