East Grinstead 1-3 Sittingbourne
East Grinstead 1-3 Sittingbourne

A fifth successive away league win for Sittingbourne keeps them heavily involved in the race for play-off places.

All that was wrong with another confident, competent and hard-working Sittingbourne performance was the finishing – they wasted so many chances to win this match by a much bigger margin.

As it was they resisted a spirited East Grinstead second half fightback on a chilly Sussex afternoon to ease back into the lead, and then made sure they didn’t concede any of the late goals that have cost them dearly recently.

New signing Ben Davisson, from Ashford United, went straight into midfield on his debut and turned in an excellent non-stop performance, never wasting a pass all afternoon.

The only other change from the Sittingbourne team that unluckily lost to Wingate & Finchley in midweek was the return of Kane Rowland, though he filled an unfamiliar wide-left role with Miles Cornwell given the responsibility of playing as the lone striker.

Sittingbourne, in their white change kit edged with red and hardly-matching blue and yellow socks, started in control and immediately started carving out chances.
John Coker headed wide, the keeper made a good save from Cornwell after a great set-up by Bola Dawodu, Rowland headed just off target from Ben Gorham’s cross, and a Tom Loynes shot was fielded by the home keeper.

At the other end, Harry Brooks, chosen in goal ahead of recent signing Jordan Carey, made a decent save when East Grinstead for once got forward.
Sittingbourne went ahead on 30 minutes when Loynes got past his full-back on the outside and hit a shrewd low cross to the near post where Rowland, who otherwise struggled to get into the game, deftly scored with a first-time finish. That’s five goals in his last four games for the team’s top scorer.

Cornwell worked so hard up front and got himself in a couple of great positions only to lack composure with his finishes, but at least Sittingbourne didn’t concede a goal in the minutes before half-time, which has been a vulnerable time for them lately.

East Grinstead made a couple of half-time changes and were much better going forward in the second half though it was Dawodu who had a great chance to double the Sittingbourne lead 10 minutes into the second half only to miss a gaping target from Loynes’ terrific set-up.

The home equalised on 59 minutes when a runner from midfield burst through the lines and set up Mongoy who clipped a clever instinctive shot over Brooks from 20 yards out.

The response was immediate and within 60 seconds Sittingbourne were back in front. A corner by sub Chris Elliott into the six-yard box bounced off a couple of players to find Cornwell, and he had time to trap the ball and stab it over the line from close range.

More openings went begging with Cornwell unable to finish off when Elliott put him through, and Dawodu missed a couple of great chances in succession, hitting the post with the second opportunity.

With sub Ollie Brown and Davisson working so hard behind him to disrupt any East Grinstead midfield possession, Dawodu could push further forward and it paid off after 80 minutes when he pounced on a loose back pass and rounded the keeper to shoot home with his left foot from the edge of the area and make it 3-1. Game, set and match.

Sittingbourne now face three away games against much tougher opponents than East Grinstead in the next fortnight – come out of those with their impressive away record intact and they’ll really be rocking.

Attendance 120

Referee: Mr James Hurst. Assistants: Mr Thomas Nicholls, Mr Hossain Tavakkoli.

Sittingbourne: Harry Brooks, Chris Webber, Salvin Kisitu, Tyrone Guthrie (Ollie Brown, 45 min), Ben Gorham, John Coker, Tom Loynes (Chris Elliott, 58 min) (Yellow card), Ben Davisson, Kane Rowland, Miles Cornwell (David Smith, 87 min), Bola Dawodu. Subs not used: Lex Allan, Jordan Carey.

East Grinstead: Dan Smith, Oliver Boulding, Karn Miller-Neave, Aruna Kamara (Luke Saggers, 45 min), CJ Williams-Agunabor, Steve Springett, Ernest Okoh (Will Hoare, 45 min), Ollie Gill (Alex Gaggin, 77 min), Leo Mazzone, Oshaye Giraud Hutchinson, Jordy Mangoy. Subs not used: Luke Miller, Callum Wilson.