Sittingbourne 1-0 Tooting & Mitcham United

Saturday 23rd September 2006

The game was preceded by a helicopter entrance by Andy Spice, the Sittingbourne chairman, writes Peter Pitts.

Despite this Abramovich style entrance Andy would like to assure all supporters that he is not a rich man!!!

On a more sombre note there was a minutes silence for a stalwart of Kent football, John Glover, whose death at an untimely early age has just been announced.

Glover's playing career included spells for Gravesend & Northfleet, Welling United and Maidstone United.

It's usually the sign of a team that has belief in itself when it survives an onslaught and then goes on to win the game and this is just what happened today.

It is also true that Steve Williams in goal and the Brickies defence played magnificently, none more so than my man of the match Paul Ainsworth who had one of the best, if not the best, game he has ever had in a Sittingbourne shirt.

Tooting and Mitcham had only scored two goals in the league so far and perhaps this game showed why.

In the first half they made plenty of chances but their finishing was woeful, although as already said the Brickies defence certainly didn't make their task easy.

Tooting and Mitcham started the game like an express train. They won umpteen corners and by half time were well ahead with the corner count.

They threatened first on 6 minutes when Williams just snatched the ball at the second attempt following a header by Vernon Francis.

At the other end a ball into the Tooting & Mitcham area found Mitchell Sherwood who then seemed to be pushed off the ball by Allan McLeod. That was McLeod's last action of the game as he was then replaced by Dean Hamlin.

Tooting & Mitcham continued to press and on 18 minutes a header by Jason Pinnock flew over the Brickies bar.

Sittingbourne were being pinned back and it wasn’t until 22 minutes that they won their first corner which was cleared with some difficulty by the Tooting and Mitcham defence.

On 27 minutes Simon Mitchell for Tooting squandered a good chance by heading Matt York's cross wide.

No sooner had Sittingbourne cleared their lines then the ball was back again and on the half hour a York free kick bent round the Brickies 3 man wall but Williams was alert to the threat and blocked the effort.

Tooting and Mitcham were definitely playing better than their league position would suggest and on 41 minutes it took a combination of Williams and Sherwood to turn round a Mitchell header.

They finished the half strongly too with both Francis and York shooting wide.

Sittingbourne though had the last chance of the half when Andy Doerr, who up to that time had had a fairly quiet game, burst into the Tooting area with Danny Carroll in hot pursuit, the two tangled and Carroll had to limp off.

Carroll's injury was bad enough for him to be carried off and he was taken to the Medway Maritime hospital with suspected nerve damage to the leg.

Tooting and Mitcham had had by far the better of the first half and Sittingbourne must have been pleased to hear the half time whistle.

Sittingbourne substituted Tristan Knowles with Lee Browning at the start of the second half and Browning made an immediate impact as on 49 minutes he sent in a peach of a cross to the far post where Mark Lovell was lurking and the Brickies striker rose majestically and thumped a header past Dave King in the Tooting & Mitcham goal to give Sittingbourne a perhaps undeserved lead.

This goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Tooting, perhaps they had just burnt themselves out with all of their industry in the first half.

Five minutes later a corner to the Tooting far post was headed on to Doerr who blasted his effort over when on another day he may have done better. Then a long cross into the Tooting area ended in Lovell heading straight at King.

Tooting though could not be discounted and on 65 minutes a far post cross found Pinnock who failed to find the target, however Sittingbourne were now looking the more likely side to score again and a free kick found Kieran Marsh who smashed a stinging effort over the bar.

The expected final onslaught by Tooting never materialised and Sittingbourne had a fairly comfortable passage to the final whistle.

It's often said that a good side is a side that still wins when they haven't played well and that could be said of Sittingbourne today.

Sittingbourne: Williams: Ashmore, Dowley, Ainsworth, Searle (Browning 46), Marsh, Knowles (Nicholls 57), Gooding, Lovell, Doerr, Sherwood (Singh 80), Subs: Belcher, Elder.