Sittingbourne Match Report

Saturday 22 January 2011. Ryman League, Division One South.

Walton & Hersham 0 Sittingbourne 1.

Swans’ mini-slump continued, as they have now only picked up one point from the last nine. They never really recovered from a nightmare scenario after just six minutes, which saw goalkeeper Gareth Williams sent-off, reducing them to ten men for 84 minutes, and going 1-0 down to the penalty Williams conceded. This enabled Sittingbourne to defend their slender lead against a depleted, out-of-sorts home side for the rest of the match by playing just one man up front. Midfielder Mo Harkin had to be sacrificed to enable substitute keeper Sheikh Ceesay to come on and take over from Williams between the posts. Swans had already been hit by the late withdrawal of Shaun Elliott, who was still troubled by the ankle injury picked up at Ramsgate a week earlier, with Ashley Quashie taking over at left-back, and things got worse when skipper Richard Taylor had to come off after just half-an hour. Swans had already had one escape, when after six minutes they were again caught open at the back, and Sittingbourne’s Ryan Golding got clear before going down under Williams’ attempt to get to the ball.

Williams was adjudged to have fouled the visitors’ striker, denying a goal-scoring opportunity, and so was red-carded and a penalty awarded. Stand-in keeper Ceesay guessed right, but just failed to keep out Billy Manners’ spot-kick. Swans had a chance to equalise after a quarter of an hour when Liam Collins dispossessed his namesake in the Sittingbourne side, Sam Collins, and set-up Jean-Michel Sigere inside the right of the six-yard box, but visiting keeper Matt Burt saved at his near-post to get the ball behind. The visitors almost went 2-0 up after 25 minutes when Golding was again played clear, but Ceesay came out to the edge of the box to just get a hand to the ball as the Sittingbourne striker tried to lob him. With Taylor going off and striker Graeme Purdy replacing him, Sigere had to drop into an unaccustomed position in the home defence. Swans continued to struggle to get their game going, but Gary Frewen did send a free-kick from 30 yards out dipping just wide of the right-post. They went closest to equalising five minutes before the break when they won a corner on the right. Several attempts to clear Frewen’s kick failed and the ball was finally headed against the bar and over by Purdy. Ten minutes after the resumption Golding had another chance for the Kent side when he was found close-in by the left-post, but after turning he put his shot straight at Ceesay.

A minute later Ceesay’s opposite number Burt was tested for only the second time when Victor Kiri struck a good shot from outside the box, but the visiting keeper did well to beat the ball away. Glenn Stanley replaced Sigere for Swans, but when an opportunity was soon presented to him by way of a free-kick being awarded 25 yards out, his effort flew wildly high and wide. Sittingbourne continued to defend in numbers, being content to hit Swans on the break, and midway through the second-half Collins got down the right to cross to the far-post and pick out Dan Palfrey, who drove a shot against the post. Ceesay was immediately bringing off a superb save from point-blank range when Golding got in a shot from a left-side cross. Although they continued to create little in the way of chances, Swans showed a lot of effort and spirit in pushing forward in search of an equaliser, but they were always in danger of conceding again, and Manners’ free header drifted wide of the left-post when he was picked out by a free-kick played in from the left. Swans’ final chance came and went with seven minutes of normal time remaining when Purdy was played into the left of the box, but keeper Burt got both hands to the ball to deflect Purdy’s shot over.

Swans’ Team: Gareth Williams, Josh Webb, Ashley Quashie, Mo Harkin (Sheikh Ceesay 7’), Damian Matthews, Richard Taylor (Graeme Purdy 30’), Liam Collins, Victor Kiri, Jean-Michel Sigere (Glenn Stanley 57’), Phil Williams, Gary Frewen. Subs. not used: Martin Grant, Shaun Elliott. Cautions: Frewen, Collins. Dismissal: G. Williams.

Sittingbourne Team: Burt, Hooper, Dowley, Reeves, Eves, Morley, Manners, Collins (Nuttall 90+3’), Golding, Semakula, Palfrey. Subs. not used: Charles, Brady. Scorer: Manners, penalty (8’). Cautions: Collins, Eves, Palfrey.