Bostik South East League
Saturday, 27th August 2018
Sittingbourne (0) 0 Cray Wanderers (2) 2 (Pritchard 12, Power 18)
By Tony Rickson
Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Josh Dorling, Reiss Crimmen, Dan Parkinson (Yellow card) (KJ McFarlane, 72 min), Lex Allan, Chris Webber, Ira Jackson (Yellow card), Lewis Chambers (Yellow card) (Johan Caney-Bryan,
88 min), Bola Dawodu, Tommie Fagg (Yellow card), Tom Loynes (Izzy Adebayo, 72 min). Subs not used: Harrison Hatfull, Harry Brooks.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams (Yellow card), Mitchell Nelson, Marcus Evans, Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Archie Johnson, 60 min), Michael Power, Sammy Dadson (Tom Phipps,
75 min), Jerome Frederico (Mark Solebo, 89 min). Subs not used: Freddie Parker, Joe Vines.
Referee: Rhys Batty. Assistants: Andrew Simmonds, Tony King.
Last season’s matches between these two clubs were all fire and brimstone, so anyone looking for a repeat would have been hugely disappointed by this Bank Holiday anti-climax.
Cray simply did a job on Sittingbourne. They capitalised on poor defending to score two early goals and then just sat on their lead and saw out the rest of the game.
To be honest, it was dull to watch but both teams came into this match with 100 per cent starts to their season from the opening two games, so there was plenty at stake beyond just a bit of Kentish pride.
Cray were the better side, undoubtedly, and deserved their win, while Sittingbourne will have learned some harsh lessons from their first goalless display of the season.
One was that if top scorer Ira Jackson is marked out of the game then they’ve got to find other ways of scoring; another was that defenders can’t get turned to present their opponents with goal opportunities; another was that if an opponent is going to go down every time they’re tackled and the referee’s going to award a free-kick, then you’ve got to find other ways of getting the ball back.
Sittingbourne tried hard enough, working their socks off in their second game in 48 hours, and created quite a few scoring opportunities, particularly in the second half, but without really looking like breaking the net.
Fielding an unchanged side, Sittingbourne started well enough with Tom Loynes’ early shot held by the always well-positioned Cray keeper.
But the visitors took a 12th minute lead, catching the Sittingbourne defence napping with a quick throw-in, and Power getting the wrong side of his marker to put in a low cross which Pritchard steered in from close range.
It got worse for Sittingbourne just six minutes later, as Power turned cleverly into half a yard of space and thrashed a left-footed shot low into the far corner from 25 yards.
Sittingbourne tried to rally but came up against some stubborn defending, though Bola Dawodu had his effort blocked when well placed and Dan Parkinson shot over from 20 yards.
If Cray slowed the game down in the first half, with numerous passes across the back before getting the ball forward, they did it in even more after the break.
Goalkeeper Blue took forever over his clearances, free-kicks were won as players went down, too easily in some cases, and – my particular hate – the goal-kick which deliberately doesn’t go out of the area and they get the chance to do it all over again with another minute ticked off the clock. To me, it’s gamesmanship and should be punished.
Having moaned about Cray, they certainly looked good on the ball from 1 to 11 and fully justified their probably unwanted tag as title favourites.
Sittingbourne went close a lot in the second 45 minutes, Dawodu just past the post with a header, Jackson foiled by the keeper saving with his feet, Loynes volleying wide, and Tommie Fagg – to me the hardest working player on the field – having his shot saved.
Sittingbourne won’t come up against teams of the quality and expertise of Cray every week, so will just have to wave goodbye to their unbeaten start and knuckle down to regaining their winning touch in the weeks ahead.