Thursday 01st September 2005

Sittingbourne battle against the elements to beat local rivals

Tuesday 27th
December 2005
Southern League
Division One East
Peter Pitts reports from Bourne Park
Sittingbourne 2 Kieron Marsh 2, 53 (pen)
Chatham Town 1 Brendan Cass 18

Way back in the summer it must have looked a good idea by the Southern League to schedule their Christmas holiday games a day later than the other major leagues. However, this decision almost backfired as right up to an hour before kick off the game was in doubt due to the wintry weather, writes Peter Pitts.

Help though was at hand as for the second game running a few stalwarts set about
making the pitch playable and the ground safe for spectators.  

Despite these endeavours other factors almost made this effort superfluous as  most
of the bulbs on one of the floodlights failed raising the risk of abandonment.

Thankfully  both sides agreed that the light from the remaining bulbs was sufficient and the game continued, perhaps Chatham will wish that it hadn't.

To cap it all a snow shower a quarter of an hour from the end made visibility even more difficult but somehow the game reached its full 90 minutes.

280 hardy souls forsook the comforts of home or pub to watch the match, unfortunately the conditions meant that the game was not particularly pretty to watch and perhaps there were a few who wished the game had been abandoned!

However, the Sittingbourne faithful will be glad to get this three point start to the Christmas and New Year programme.

Both sides were without key players. Sittingbourne were missing the suspended Lee Browning, Bradley Spice and Tristan Knowles to add to the injured Mark Lovell.  Paul Ainsworth was unavailable and Michael Smissen played, although he has barely recovered from flu like symptoms.

On a positive note Jon Neal has shaken off his injury and was on the subs bench.

Chatham Town were without the suspended Danny Larkin and Matt Bourne whilst
Andy Larkin was unavailable.

Sittingbourne had the best possible start to the game when after just 45 seconds a James Campbell header found Clint Gooding who passed to Kieran Marsh lurking on the edge of the Chatham Town area. Marsh picked his spot before crashing a marvellous volley past the diving Louis Green to give the Brickies the lead.

Chatham were rocked by the goal but Sittingbourne didn't manage to stamp their authority on the game and slowly Chatham came into the game.

Peter Taylor had one of his better games for Sittingbourne and on 15 minutes
he almost set up a a second from his cross but Smissen, although beating Green to the ball, headed wide.

Three minutes later Brickies keeper Steve Williams got down to a Brendan Cass shot but the ball crept under his body and Chatham were level.

Chatham then had the greater part of the possession and on 35 minutes Peter Taylor headed the ball off  the Sittingbourne goal line.

Half time came and so did the floodlight problems but both teams agreed that the game could continue under the remaining bulbs.

The second half began evenly but on 53 minutes Marsh sped into the Chatham
area only for Tom Binks to take his legs, Marsh despatched the resultant
penalty himself to restore Sittingbourne's lead.

Sittingbourne almost scored again two minutes later but the shot was kicked off the goal line.

Snow started to fall and although the scene was marvellously seasonal this was the last thing that the game needed!

Chatham had plenty of possession in the next quarter of the game but although Steve Williams was the busiest of the two keepers saving a snap shot from Robert Denness and doing well to hold a free kick the Brickies defence were playing well in the awful conditions.  

Chatham's substitute Byron Walker was looking lively and following a flowing move he shot narrowly over the Brickies bar. Chatham then took the game to the Brickies
for the last ten minutes, Cass fired across the Brickies goal then a shot by Walker was deflected for a corner. Williams was then called into action to tip a shot over the bar. But when this period of dominance failed to produce a result Chatham knew that this was not be their day.

Sittingbourne: Williams, Ashmore, Dowley, Tanner, Campbell, Marsh, Taylor
(Spiller 77), Gooding, Smissen (Neal 82), Hockey, Sherwood, Subs: Belcher, Deveraux, Hudson

Chatham Town: Green, Binks, Davey, Boyle, Best, Searle ( Harvey 66 ),
Solley, Brooks, Denness, Cass, Finn (Walker 7), Subs: Billenness, Lyons, Miles