Herne Bay 1-1 Sittingbourne
Herne Bay 1-1 Sittingbourne

It’s a long time since Sittingbourne fought back from a goal down to get something from a game, so good for them for returning from Herne Bay with a point from their exertions on a warm bank holiday afternoon.

It was nothing less than they deserved, but this game had a bit of an air of a low-key end-of-season encounter with the edge gone, as both teams are finally free from the threat of relegation that has hung over them for far too long.

Amazingly, it was Sittingbourne’s first draw in 31 matches as they’d got used to winning lots of games in a row (five at one stage), or doing the opposite (six successive defeats going into this match).

They made two changes from the team that started against Hastings 48 hours earlier, Josh Spencer and Izzy Adebayo in place of Kwasi Amoah and Timmie Babbington, who both got their chances to come on as substitutes.

It was a lovely afternoon down by the seaside and Herne Bay, who have had a much better second half to the season than they did the first half, took the lead after less than three minutes.

A corner from the left was played back into the danger zone by Bay captain Ben Gorham – one of five ex-Sittingbourne players in their line-up. It was returned from the far post into the middle where Addy scored a simple goal.

Not surprisingly given their recent poor run of results, Sittingbourne seem to take it hard when they concede a goal but they gradually worked their way back into the game with some decent possession, though too many long passes forward were overhit and simply ran out of play down the slight slope.

Both Adebayo and Liam Middleton couldn’t get the ball from under their feet when given a chance in the opposition penalty area, and the closest Sittingbourne got in the first half was when Tommy Fagg, restored to a midfield role, hit a fierce piledriver from a good distance that Overland did well to keep out.

Bay used their speedy attackers to hit Sittingbourne on the break and Patrick Lee had to make a good save when Schafer broke free and Lex Allan, again a tower of strength in defence, hooked the ball off the line when Bay counter-attacked direct from their own corner.

Sittingbourne had even more of the play in the second half and Henry Woods couldn’t make the most of it when Roman Campbell set him up and Jack Morrell shot narrowly wide after a good run cut open the Bay defence.

The pressure was mounting and Sittingbourne made it pay midway through the half when Babbington skipped free from Woods’ headed pass and when he tried to cut the ball back from a narrow angle, it struck first Gorham and then keeper Overland to find its way into the net.

Bay were still dangerous in the odd break, Lee again coming out well to save from Schafer, while at the other end Babbington might well have forced an injury time penalty with a shot that hit a defender’s hand, and then he was twice foiled by blocks as he drove in follow-up shots.

So Sittingbourne finished their away programme in front of the third largest crowd to watch them play this season with a fairly respectable record of six wins and a couple of draws.

Just one game left now, with bottom-placed Guernsey the visitors this Saturday. They’ve got everything to play for still, while Sittingbourne could at least walk off into their summer break with heads held high if they maintain the energy and determination that got them a point from this game.

Herne Bay (1) 1 (Addy 3)  Sittingbourne (0) 1 (O.G)

Attendance: 408

Herne Bay: Simon Overland, Simon Kabamba, Raphe Brown, Ben Gorham, Danny Rumbol, James Belcher (Leshawn Clifford-Awoyemi, 44 min), Bradley Schafer, Dan Birch, Victor Aiyelabola, Luke Addy, Danny Leonard.

Subs not used: Francis Igbedioh, Brendon Gration, Fred Rumbol.

Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Chris Webber, Jack Morrell, Lex  Allan, Josh Spencer, Tommy Fagg, Izzy Adebayo (Kane Phillip, 55 min), Chris Barnard, Roman Campbell, Henry Woods (Kwasi Amoah, 79 min), Liam Middleton (Timmy Babbington, 33 min).

Subs not used: Khalil McFarlane, Tom Lawrence.


Referee: Peter Cruise

Assistants: Simon Cutler, Stuart Marriott