Report by Tony Rickson
The count went up on Tuesday (13th March) to seven successive defeats, with an undoubtedly deserving win for competent promotion-chasing Walton Casuals.
But it was not the worst night ever for Sittingbourne, a young and inexperienced side working hard throughout and giving their all in an effort to bridge the gap in quality. And they defended well, denying Walton a goal from open play, their goals coming within just four second half minutes of each other from a penalty and a corner.
Stand-in manager Aslan Odev rang the changes after the 3-0 defeat at Guernsey on Saturday, keeping only six of the team who played in that match. Back came Harry Brooks in goal, Dan Parkinson and Tyrone Guthrie returned, Germaine Agyemang made his first start in Sittingbourne colours and Josh Algar came in to the new-look midfield. There was a switch in defence - a successful one, too - as Josh Dorling went to right-back to mark the speedy Bamba and captain Chris Webber played excellently at centre-half alongside Lex Allan.
The team started well, showing a lot of determination to match a Walton side who'd beaten a much more experienced Sittingbourne line-up 3-0 on their artificial pitch before Christmas. Walton passed the ball around well but wasted their early well-constructed openings with poor finishing, Bamba shooting wide after a pacy break from defending a corner at the other end.
Both David Smith and Parkinson went close for Sittingbourne but too many times they gave the ball away with sloppy passes after doing well to win back possession in the first place. Brooks, clearly determined to impress in yet another claim for the No 1 shirt, made a good diving save in the 37th minute and Sittingbourne would have left the pitch at half-time congratulating themselves on holding high-riding Walton to a goalless scoreline.
The keeper was at it again after the break with another save to be proud of, but he couldn't prevent the visitors taking a 58th minute lead from a penalty after Allan mistimed his challenge. Walton doubled the lead just four minutes later with a horrible goal to concede, Bamba latching onto a low corner played in to the near post and gaining enough time to turn and hammer it into the far corner. Though confidence can't be high after such a difficult run, Sittingbourne continued to try to get something from the game with Kane Rowland non-stop in his forlorn efforts to attempt to break down a well-organised defence.
For all their goodwill, Sittingbourne failed to test the opposing keeper and Walton were able to wind down the clock and hold on for what must rank as one of their most comfortable wins of the season. Poor old boss Odev must think he's been given a thankless task of trying to impress enough to earn the management job next season with key players like John Coker, Chris Elliott, Bola Dawodu, Tom Loynes and Kane Phillips out, and others like Miles Cornwell, Ben Davisson, Sal Kiwitsu and Laurence Ball drifting off. It was never going to be easy and at the moment it looks altogether much harder still.
Sittingbourne Played: Harry Brooks, Josh Dorling, Fabrice Blewordah, Dan Parkinson (Jidi Okimeji, 65 min), Lex Allan, Chris Webber, Germaine Agyemang, Tyrone Guthrie (Yellow card), Kane Rowland, Josh Algar (Charlie Allen, 86 min) and David Smith (Rhys Bartlett, 65 min). Subs not used: Colby Wait and Muhammed Otuyo.