Sometimes the performance seems more important than the result – especially when a team’s not going up or down and half an eye’s already on beginning to plan for next season.
This was just such a night when Sittingbourne played excellently and showed great commitment from the first minute to the last.
Ok, the result went against them in the end as promotion-chasing Greenwich Borough clinched a fifth win in a row, but Sittingbourne made them work very hard for the points.
It was nothing like the away game in December when Sittingbourne caved in a bit and were given a 5-1 hiding, their heaviest defeat of the season. Or last season at Woodstock, come to that, when Greenwich again won 5-1.
Sittingbourne went into the game without injured captain Chris Webber, signalling a welcome return to the club for Reiss Crimmen – and how well he did at centre-half alongside a rejuvenated Lex Allan, who was again excellent until getting injured. The only other change from the team that beat Shoreham 1-0 on Saturday was Josh Algar replacing Germaine Dua in midfield.
Sittingbourne started positively, showing a willingness to chase and tackle and harass all over the field, but it was Greenwich who went closest early on with McGeehan heading against the top of the bar.
The visitors looked confident and organised, and had the majority of the first half possession, but Sittingbourne were well in the game and Kane Rowland just failed to finish off one superb move, and then was tripped as he went to race clear through the middle.
There was a chance, too, for Dan Parkinson just before half-time as captain Tom Loynes put him through, but his shot didn’t trouble the Greenwich keeper.
Perhaps there was something in their half-time tea as Greenwich came out for the second half and immediately scored, Barham driving in a low shot after a right-wing cross.
With Allan limping off and leaving a makeshift defence behind him to cope with the division’s leading scorer in Barham, Sittingbourne might have feared a bit of a second half run-around. But that was far from the case.
They forced Greenwich backwards and when Loynes was played in on the right-hand side of the area after 65 minutes he put in a perfectly-placed cross for Parkinson to head the equaliser.
Suddenly, it was Sittingbourne in the ascendancy, driven on by some mighty throw-ins by Crimmen, one of which was so powerful it went straight into the goal – just a touch by anyone would have meant it counted.
At the other end Crimmen was back in place to clear off the line after a rare Harry Brooks mishandling, and Sittingbourne at the time looked sure to get at least a point out of the game.
But their hard work was undone on 76 minutes when sub Chris Elliott conceded a soft free-kick. Not sure Sittingbourne needed the three-man wall as that seemed to leave them light on markers when the ball was swung in beyond the far post. The waiting Hibbert had time and space to control it and pick his spot in the far corner for the winning goal.
Greenwich were in no mood to let a second lead slip as they successfully wound down the clock, though Algar was set up beautifully by Loynes only to shoot narrowly too high.
Although sometimes their passing went off-target when under pressure, this was generally a very decent Sittingbourne performance.
If this is building up a squad for next season, then the omens look good – a long way to go, sure, but the attitude is spot on and fans will forgive the odd defeat or two if the players show they’re putting everything into it.
Sittingbourne: Harry Brooks, Josh Dorling, Fabrice Blewordah, Reiss Crimmen, Lex Allan (Chris Elliott, 64 min), Lewis Chambers (Harrison Hatfull, 68 min), Dan Parkinson, Josh Algar (Germaine Dua, 81 min), Kane Rowland, David Smith, Tom Loynes. Subs not used: Charlie Allen, Max Ferrelly.
Greenwich Borough: Michael McEntegart, Nathan Paul, Tom Carlse (Yellow card), Callum McGeehan, Rian McLean (Yellow card), Sam Corne, Ali Fuseine (Bradley Pritchard, 71 min), Travis Gregory, Ryan-King Elliott (Kaka Dembele, 84 min), Nassim Dukali (Omar Hibbert, 71 min), Jack Barham. Subs not used: Nana Baah, Vincent Follea.
Referee: Mr Ricky Adams, Assistants: Mr James Paternoster, Mr Christopher Price.
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