Tony Rickson Reports
Saturday 24th November 2018
Bostik League South East Division
East Grinstead (0) 2 (Landais (open) 46, Chapman 82) Sittingbourne (1) 1 (Fagg 22), Attendance: 84
East Grinstead: Sheikh Ceesay, Jack Bray, Karn Miller-Neave, Dan Pearse, Callum Emptage, Ryan Johnson, Jordan Johnson, Mitchell Chapman, George Landais (Leo Mazzone, 71 min), Greg Cundle, Orlando Smith. Subs not
used: Ollie Boulding, Drew Cooney, Dean Gunner, OíShaye Hutchinson.
Sittingbourne: Matt Funnell, Chris Webber, Nasseer Ishanzadeh, (Nathan Elder, 90 min), Lewis Chambers (Izzy Adebayo, 76 min), Lex Allan, Joe Denny, Ira Jackson, Bola Dawodu (Amadu Wartay, 67 min), David Smith, Tommie Fagg, Tom Loynes. Subs not used: Patrick Lee, Rob Lofting.
Referee: Mr Christopher Myatt. Assistants: Mr Will Briers, Mr Christopher Britton.
Photographs from the match by Ken Medwyn
Thatís six defeats in a row for Sittingbourne. And the second week in a row theyíve lost by a late winning goal to a team from Sussex who are below them in the league.
I for one didnít see this defeat coming as they worked their socks off to gain a deserved first half lead.
But a harsh penalty and a breakaway goal did for them in the second half, and although I felt sorry for Sittingbourne, take nothing away from East Grinstead who refused to ditch their game plan and eventually reaped the reward.
On a dreary, drizzly afternoon, Sittingbourne made three defensive changes from the team beaten 1-0 by Three Bridges last week. Matt Funnell took over in goal from Patrick Lee, Lex Allan replaced the injured Ben Fitchett in central defence, and at left-back debutant Naseer Tshanzadeh came in for the suspended Reiss Crimmen.
Sittingbourne have won away at Horsham and Guernsey this season by energetically high pressing a team determined to play the ball out of defence.
When East Grinstead showed they were going to do the same, then Sittingbourne pounced.
First Bola Dawodu robbed a defender by sprinting to close him down, and was only foiled by a full-length save by the keeper. Then Tom Loynes and Ira Jackson did the same, both going forward to fizz in fast and low crosses that were just too quick on the slick wet grass for anyone to get a touch on them.
David Smith was working hardest of them all, and he set up the opening goal, winning the ball to lay it back for Tommie Fagg. In a bit of space but still at least 20 yards out, the tall midfielder drove in a powerful low shot which took a slight deflection off a defender to skim into the corner of the goal.
Sittingbourne were on top in the first half and Fagg had further efforts from distance, one just wide and another deflected wide, while Jackson had a penalty appeal turned down when he bounced off a covering defender.
East Grinstead passed it nicely but threatened less, though when they did get forward, Funnell twice made good saves and both of them with his feet rather than his hands.
Although that high level pressing demands a huge amount of energy, Sittingbourne looked set fair at half-time to see out the second half and end a run of eight league games without a win.
But the home side were level within a minute of the restart. The dangerous Cundle burst into the box in the inside-left channel and although Joe Denny looked to have won the ball in a sliding tackle, it must have looked a reckless enough challenge to the referee for him to award a penalty. Landais converted from the spot, confidently sending Funnell diving the wrong way.
East Grinstead dominated possession for a while but gradually Sittingbourne got back on top and began to press for the winner, with Smith and Loynes both unlucky with volleyed efforts.
But it was their willingness to go for it that proved their undoing, as they lost possession following their own 82nd minute corner and didnít react quick enough to stop the ball being pumped forward.
Suddenly Cundle was speeding free in the same position where he won the penalty but this time he pulled back an immaculate low cross into the six-yard box and Chapman neatly scored the winner with a first-time finish.
Sittingbourne worked hard throughout and surely deserved at least something from the game, but itís goals that count. They only looked demoralised once the winner went in, playing with confidence and determination up to that point. Itís a bad run, but it will have to end some time Ö