Wivenhoe Town 1 Sittingbourne 0

Monday 10th April 2006

Sittingbourne’s goalkeeping problems continue as first choice Steve Williams missed Saturday’s game through injury. Rob Hudson has an injured shoulder but was named as a substitute therefore giving Lee Friend a rare chance to show what he can do despite not being 100% himself but he still turned in a competent performance making a number of good saves, writes Peter Pitts.

Wivenhoe began the game with a strong wind at their backs giving them a distinct advantage and they had two good chances in the first five minutes when a defensive error let in Simon Thomas but Friend did well to block the shot. Then three minutes later Jack Wignall headed over from right in front of the goal.

On 11 minutes a cross field ball was curled past Friend and ended up at the far post with Earl Sperling who fired the ball straight into Friend’s waiting arms. Then Wignall headed across the Brickies goal and wide.

Despite all the Wivenhoe pressure Sittingbourne had a golden opportunity to take the lead on 18 minutes when Clint Gooding was presented with a great chance after intercepting a clearance by Paul Hillier but his shot went straight to Wivenhoe keeper Ollie Sanders.

Five minutes later Sittingbourne were to rue this miss as Wivenhoe had a quick throw, (taken from a good three yards from where it should have been), the ball was crossed quickly infield to Stuart Joplin who hit a good shot past Friend and into the net to give the Dragons the lead.

Soon after Gooding was unable to continue after sustaining a nasty looking cut eye and he was replaced by Jon Neal.

Sittingbourne had another good opportunity on 32 minutes this time Kieran Marsh had the goal at his mercy after a misunderstanding in the Wivenhoe defence but he fell as he shot and the ball went wide.

There was almost a dramatic start to the second half when straight from the kick off Hillier fired goal-wards only for Friend to block the shot.

Sittingbourne then began to gain the ascendancy, no doubt helped by the wind now in their favour.

On 50 minutes a shot from an otherwise subdued Mark Lovell was easily gathered by Sanders and three minutes later a 30 yard effort from Mitchell Sherwood sailed narrowly over the Dragons cross-bar.

Then a cross was tipped on to his bar by Sanders and then over, although the Assistant referee believed that he hadn’t touched it and much to the annoyance of the small Brickies contingent a goal kick was awarded.

On 61 minutes Friend turned a Wignall header from a free kick over the bar and 16 minutes later he was in action again this time palming over a Joplin shot.

Sittingbourne then had a strong last 10 minutes where they piled forward in search of an equaliser.

On 89 minutes a period of panic in the Wivenhoe area ended in a Bradley Spice goal bound shot hitting Jon Neal and finding Marsh who fired over, however this final flurry proved to be too late and Wivenhoe held on during the seven injury minutes added to just keep alive their play off hopes whilst Sittingbourne are just six points from a relegation place with four games to play.

Next Saturday’s game at home to Aveley is looking more and more interesting as Aveley are one of just four teams below them in the league.

Sittingbourne: Friend, Lawson (Taylor 73), Dowley, Ainsworth, Campbell, Marsh, Spiller, Gooding (Neal 36), M Lovell, Spice, Sherwood. Subs: Belcher, Ashmore, Hudson