Cray Valley have a very talented team and experienced manager and year on year they’re always a very good footballing side, says Sittingbourne boss Darren Blackburn

Friday 25th September 2020

SITTINGBOURNE manager Darren Blackburn says he was happy to get their Isthmian League South East Division campaign off to a winning start.

The Brickies suffered a 4-1 defeat to Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Deal Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round but bounced back by beating Whitstable Town 3-2 last weekend.

“We were very happy to get off to a winning start last week in a hard-fought game against Whitstable,” said Blackburn.

“Always nice to get those three points on the board early to help everyone settle down and build a little bit of confidence.

“It was far from a perfect performance but it was nice to get such a positive reaction after going behind early on in the game again.

“It was great for Andy Drury to get off the mark on his 100th appearance for the club.  Kane Rowland has settled in very well, as I knew he would, he’s a top lad and chipped in with a clever finish to go with his admirable work-rate off the ball.

“Harry Goodger came off the bench to contribute well with what turned out to be the winner, so I’m pleased for him being a local lad as well.

“Overall, it was a huge improvement on our performance against Deal but we still have a long way to go and the lads have another couple of gears to go up yet, in my opinion, as a group.

“They’re a great group of lads who can compete with anyone on their day – if they apply themselves appropriately.”

Sittingbourne travel to Eltham to take on Kevin Watson’s Cray Valley (Paper Mills) tomorrow.

The Millers started their campaign by thrashing local rivals VCD Athletic 6-0 in The FA Cup Preliminary Round and came away from Hastings United with a point in a goal-less draw last Saturday.

Cray Valley comfortably brushed aside Burgess Hill Town 3-1 in The FA Cup First Qualifying Round on Wednesday night.

Blackburn said: “We’re now looking forward to tomorrow and what will be another extremely tough game.

“Cray Valley have a very talented team and experienced manager and year on year they’re always a very good footballing side.

“Hopefully we can compete from the off as a minimum, work hard and stay in the game to give us a chance to create opportunities ourselves and if we do we have shown we can take one or two.

“Obviously, they’ll be red hot favourites for the game based on their form and the quality they had and have also added to their squad. Whether we can stop them from scoring is a very difficult task and one we will ned to do as an entire team, from front to back.

“We have a couple of injuries in Michael Freiter and Sam Flisher, who will be out for about three weeks but the rest of the squad are fit and ready for the challenge.

“We don’t have the biggest of squads deliberately but we still have 16 recognised first-team players to select from and good cover in all positions, so we hope to compete and give them a good game.”

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Cray Valley (Paper Mills)  v  Sittingbourne
Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 26 September 2020
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP