Sittingbourne 1 Barking & East Ham United 1
Sunday 05th March 2006Sittingbourne were dealt a blow during the warm up session of this game when Lee Browning pulled up. Mitchell Sherwood took his place in the starting line up, Jon Neal was preferred to Tommy Price and so started his 100th game for the Brickies and Peter Taylor came into the attack, writes Peter Pitts.
Bradley Spice meanwhile was having his 200th start and he celebrated that milestone in style by being by far the pick of the Sittingbourne side and scoring the equaliser as well.
This game followed the same pattern of so many that had gone before this season by the Brickies conceding early on.
Barking & East Ham United had started the half with the strong wind blowing at their backs and on ten minutes Steve Blaney picked up a cross field ball just outside the Brickies area and before Peter Taylor could get in to block Blaney let fly to score a spectacular goal which gave Steve Williams no chance.
The goal had come out of the blue as neither side had made much headway in this early stage of the game.
Sittingbourne were reluctant to try and get round the Barking players, Lee Browning was certainly being missed, and the long balls were invariably being mopped up by the Barking defence who were winning most of the headers. However, Barking themselves were making very little headway.
Barking rarely troubled Williams but Sittingbourne weren't fairing much better either apart from a Spice free kick, which went just wide of the left hand post.
Spice looked the most likely to cause Barking problems and on 29 minutes a Lee Hockey through ball found him and he went round two defenders but the final shot was poor going wide of the near post.
Barking had two tries in the last five minutes, Williams comfortably holding one Carl Bruce effort and Warren Haughton's header going well over the bar.
Barking's Jonathan Higgs forced a save from Williams wo minutes into the second half but then Sittingbourne looked a bit more lively and on 57 minutes Neal had a good chance but fell as he made the shot and the ball flew wide.
That was to be Neal's final contribution in the game as he was then replaced by Mark Lovell.
At the same time Clint Gooding came on for Peter Taylor and five minutes later Gooding found Spice just outside the Barking area who was then fouled. Spice took the kick himself and proved his adeptness at taking them as his shot cannoned off the far post and bounced into the net for a deserved equaliser.
Spice almost made it two soon after as the ball was punted up to him but his shot flew over the bar. Sittingbourne were at last coming to life and a 25-yard wind assisted effort by Gooding flew wide.
The game had lacked passion but on 72 minutes a rash lunge by Joe Dowley sparked a mass melee. Lee Hockey and Barking's Gary Waters were spotted by the officials swapping punches and were red carded, others probably breathed a sigh of relief as at least three more could also have gone, Dowley was yellow carded for the challenge which would probably have been red if he had made contact.
Tempers hadn't quite settled down as Haughton clattered into Williams almost sparking some more mayhem.
Barking had two efforts at the end of the game, Jonathan Higgs curling a shot wide from a good position and another, which Sherwood headed off the goal line, but a winner to either side would have been an injustice.
Sittingbourne: Williams, Ashmore, Dowley, Campbell, Ainsworth, Marsh, Sherwood, Hockey, Neal (M Lovell 58), Spice, Taylor (Gooding 58), Subs: Tanner, Price