Report by Peter Pitts
You could have breakfast, a spot of lunch, eat your dinner - and still Sittingbourne wouldn't have conceded a goal. More than nine hours!
It's an incredible record of six successive clean sheets, and to be frank Shoreham, on Saturday (14th october) afternoon, hardly looked like coming within a mile of ending the run. That's seven wins in a row for super Sittingbourne, and this success down in Sussex sent them back to second in the Bostik South table. Every week, you wonder if the dream is going to end, and if every week Sittingbourne look that little bit stronger, that little bit more confident, that little bit more competent.
Newly promoted to this level this season, Shoreham have struggled to settle, but at home they've beaten high-riding Greenwich and drawn with leaders Lewes so there could be no taking them for granted. They had more spirit and determination than Ashford in the FA Trophy the previous Saturday, but spent too much time arguing with the referee and in the end they paid a heavy price for that indiscipline.
Sittingbourne made three changes from the team that won at Ashford, with Tom Loynes, Bola Dawodu and Chris Elliott replacing Kane Phillip, Tyrone Guthrie and Laurence Ball. On a pleasant October afternoon, they made all the early running with Loynes and Gil Carvalho down the flanks providing much of the threat as they looked for an early breakthrough. Miles Cornwell had a handful of first half chances, one shot demanding a good diving save by the home keeper, but it was Kane Rowland who headed Sittingbourne in front on 20 minutes. Unsung hero Ben Gorham launched a great ball over the full-back and Loynes raced clear before hitting a beautifully measured cross for Rowland to head back into the corner where the keeper had just come from.
Shoreham were struggling to hold Sittingbourne with 11 men so the last thing they needed was to lose one of them with six minutes of the first half, and all the second, still to play. Timms got a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Rowland - reckless, said the Sittingbourne fans; mistimed, claimed Shoreham's faithful. And, incidentally, a word for the Sittingbourne supporters who were there in numbers despite this not being the easiest of journeys, and once again gave unstinting support to their team. Three of Sittingbourne's wins in their recent sensational run have been by 1-0, but there was little chance this would go the same way, so dominant were they. Having said that, Shoreham had a chance of an equaliser in an isolated attack but Gaskin headed wide from close range, and soon after, in the 54th minute, it was game over as Sittingbourne - and Rowland again - got a second.
Again it was the home side's indiscipline, a needless assault on Dawodu costing them a free-kick and another yellow card. Loynes launched it beyond the far post, the outstanding John Coker beat the keeper to it in the air and headed it across goal for Rowland to head into the gaping goal. The second Saturday in a row that the impressive young striker has scored two - he's been good all season, and works extremely hard, but the goals are starting to flow as well now for Rowland. And he looked on for his hat-trick on 75 minutes when a Shoreham defender missed the ball on the halfway line and Rowland raced through in splendid isolation. He drew the keeper, must have thought about shooting, but remembered his manners to square the ball for the supporting Phillip to shoot into the empty net. That's the third time in a few weeks that Sittingbourne have scored a goal like that with one forward unselfishly setting up another in an even better position.
Three became four just minutes from time when Phillip took advantage of the space left by the overstretched and demoralised Shoreham defence to lift the ball over the keeper for David Smith to convert at the far post. That's three games in a row when Smith has scored, and he can't even be assured of a place in the starting line-up. Sittingbourne go home now for the next three games, and if they continue to combine so resolutely such defensive obstinacy with attacking flair then this dream of a season will carry on.
Sittingbourne Played: Daren Hawkes (Yellow card), Chris Webber, Chris Elliott, Ollie Brown (Jide Okimeji, 83 min), Ben Gorham, John Coker, Tom Loynes, Bola Dawodu, Kane Rowland (Yellow card) (David Smith, 75 min), Miles Cornwell and Gil Carvalho (Kane Phillip, 70 min). Subs not used: Lex Allan and Harry Brooks.