Report by Tony Rickson
Sittingbourne picked the worst day of the year on Satuday (15th February) for weather, to produce their best win since early January.
Going into the match on the back of seven successive defeats, they simply swept aside Kent rivals Sevenoaks, thumping them 4-1. Everything they got wrong in the desperately disappointing defeat by Faversham a week earlier, they got gloriously right here. They won their defensive headers, they won their midfield battles, and they competed and ran themselves into the ground all over the pitch. And most of all, they took their goal chances in style.
So what turned it round so dramatically? Well, going a goal up in the second minute was a huge confidence boost. And making it 2-0 after just six minutes must have given them the extra belief that this was going to be their day. As long as they did nothing silly. And they didn't. As the rain poured down and the wind swirled around, all in bitter plus-one temperatures, they kept going for the whole 90 minutes, and even found the energy to grab a bonus fourth goal in injury time at the end of the match.
What a shame only about half their normal crowd were there to see it, though who could blame anyone for staying indoors on an afternoon as miserable as this. Sittingbourne made two changes from the team that lost at Faversham. Gillingham youngster Danny Devine came in at right-back with captain Chris Webber switching to the other side in place of Reiss Crimmen, who has left the club. And in midfield Dan Parkinson showed how much he's been missed during a three-match suspension, returning in place of youngster Henry Woods.
What a start Sittingbourne made, and all because of the opportunism and skill of Tom Loynes. With just a minute played, goalkeeper Patrick Lee hit a long free-kick for offside and David Smith won his header to flick it on. Loynes was the quickest to react and raced past his covering defender to chest the ball down and half-volley into the far corner from the edge of the area. That puts him top of the club's scoring list for this season. Sittingbourne celebrated vigorously and doubled their lead just a few minutes later when Ben Fitchett perfectly met Parkinson's corner to head powerfully home for his first goal since his debut game in September.
Rattled Sevenoaks complained bitterly on 15 minutes when Smith collided with keeper Ben Bridle-Card, but the Sittingbourne striker was clearly 100 per cent concentrating on the ball coming in and his booking was harsh in the extreme. Mind you, his heart must have been in his mouth a few minutes later when Sevenoaks accused him of using an elbow, but the referee calmed the situation. Sevenoaks strived to get back into it after their nightmare start but so many of their long balls forward zipped straight through to Lee, and after 40 minutes they conceded again. Parkinson hit a beautiful ball forward for Smith to run onto, and he dodged past one defender before smoothly finishing past the advancing keeper - a deserved first goal since coming back to the club on loan from Dover.
As expected, Sevenoaks were all hustle and bustle for the start of the second half and experienced striker Sawyer hit the bar, but Sittingbourne were creating chances on the counter-attack and sub Bola Dawodu had a shot cleared off the line. Sittingbourne's young defence held out with great determination and solidity and it wasn't until the 87th minute that Sevenoaks won a header from a corner and the second ball was deflected past the frustrated Lee.
Still Sittingbourne weren't finished and put the icing on the cake in injury time. Tommy Fagg - what a signing he's been this season - burst forward from midfield and when his shot was half-blocked Gil Carvalho stroked the loose ball into the net. That, too, was his first goal since returning to the club.
Funny the way it suddenly seems so easy to win when everyone puts in a shift and a half, and plays with belief, determination and trust in each other. From low to high in a week; funny old game, football.
Sittingbourne Played: Patrick Lee, Danny Devine, Chris Webber, Lewis Chambers, Lex Allan, Ben Fitchett, Gil Carvalho, Dan Parkinson (Henry Woods, 73 min), David Smith (Yellow card) (Bola Dawodu, 52 min), Tommie Fagg (Yellow card) and Tom Loynes (Chmdi Otuadinma, 59 min). Subs not used: Rob Lofting and Nathan Elder.