Tony Rickson previews Sittingbourne v Whyteleafe, 15th September, KO 3.00PM
Sittingbourne face another tough Saturday afternoon challenge when four-out-of-four Whyteleafe are the visitors this weekend.
A week after going out of the Emirates FA Cup in a 1-0 defeat by Gosport, Sittingbourne are at home again, this time in the Bostik South East League.
Old rivals of Sittingbourne, Whyteleafe have made an impressive start to the season and have a 100 per cent record after beating Guernsey, Herne Bay, East Grinstead and Horsham.
They’ve also made impressive progress in the FA Cup, beating Corinthian Casuals, who now play in a division higher, 2-1 in a midweek replay with a last minute winner.
That means they’ve gone unbeaten in all nine league and cup games they’ve played this season, and currently stand level on points at the top of the league with Hastings, Cray Wanderers and VCD.
Like Whyteleafe, Sittingbourne’s league season got off to a winning start in the first two games, but since then they’ve suffered defeats by Cray and Thamesmead.
And they’ve also gone out of two cup competitions, at Tonbridge in the Kent Senior Cup and last Saturday against Gosport in the FA Cup. In total they had four penalties awarded against them in those two games.
Although Sittingbourne goalkeeper Patrick Lee was undoubtedly their best player, the odd-goal defeat left a bitter taste in the mouth for the Brickies.
There’s no point in dwelling on it now, but Ken Medwyn’s ever-revealing video of the match reveals that Sittingbourne were desperately unlucky to have an eighth minute lead from Tommie Fagg’s header ruled out for a foul.
Compare that harsh decision with an 84th minute dangerous-looking aerial challenge in his own area by Gosport’s tall young defender Casey that flattened his opponent, yet nothing was given.
Those disappointments were compounded by an injury time red card for top scorer Ira Jackson which will mean he’s suspended for the next three games. Hardly a punishment to fit the crime, whatever it was.
So Jackson will be sidelined for the visit of Whyteleafe, but manager Aslan Odev has plenty of alternative selections up his sleeve.
The last time Whyteleafe were at Sittingbourne, a year ago, Tom Loynes scored the goal of the season to complete an excellent 2-1 home win.
In the return match in Surrey, Sittingbourne were narrowly beaten with the 2-1 scoreline reversed.