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Sittingbourne 4 Stamford 2 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 April 2006
Bradley Spice scored a stunning hat trick in this game and that together with a Clint Gooding goal helped to make the day feel as sunny as the weather for the Brickies faithful in this Sittingbourne's last home game of a largely disappointing season, writes Peter Pitts.


Way back in October Sittingbourne had succumbed to a 6-2 mauling by Stamford and with the Lincolnshire side  now seeking a win in order to ensure having a home tie in the play offs this was going to be no easy job for Sittingbourne.

In fact a very short time ago no one would have given the Brickies a chance.  However, their sterling display at Chatham Town over Easter showed just what they are capable of when the chips are really down and this game was very much a carry over of the spirit that we saw at Chatham with the whole side battling throughout.

Sittingbourne manager Steve Lovell had to make one change from the team that performed so well at Chatham, the injured Ricky Spiller being replaced by Mitchell Sherwood.  James Campbell too was carrying an injury and was eventually substituted.

Sittingbourne could have taken the lead after just two minutes when Mark Lovell had two attempts at a shot in the Stamford area but his final effort was weak and easily held by Stamford keeper Ian Pledger.

Stamford then took early control and a Gareth Pritchard cross found Mark Angel who just beat Steve Williams to the ball but he sent his shot wide.

On 6 minutes Angel was in action again this time outrunning Campbell and getting in a shot which bounced off the Brickies right hand post.

Two minutes later Stamford were gifted the opener when a back pass trickled to Williams and although he seemed to have time his hurried attempt at a clearance rebounded off of Pritchard and the ball bounced into the net.

Williams was annoyed with himself but he made adequate amends later on in the match when he made some stunning saves.

Sittingbourne then surprisingly seemed to settle after this set back and on 20 minutes Spice at the far post brought down Mark Lovell's cross with one foot and at the same time looped the ball over a defenders head before crashing the ball home with the other foot and this moment of sheer magic had brought the Brickies level. 

Three minutes before the end of the half Lovell just missed with a chipped shot from a free kick.

However, only two great saves from Williams in the final minutes of the half kept the Brickies level, the first save came from an Angel free kick which somehow Williams managed to turn round with a fantastic full length dive then from the corner he saved a Kevin Childs effort with his legs.

The start of the second half was even, that is until 53 minutes when persistence by Charlie Belcher on the right caused the ball to break to Spice who was right in line with the Stamford square defence, Spice took the ball into the area before cutting inside a defender and picking his spot to score an excellent second. Stamford could have drawn level two minutes later when a corner ball was struck goal-wards but Belcher was on hand to head the ball off the line.

On 63 minutes Sittingbourne and their highly vocal supporters were on cloud nine as Peter Taylor found Gooding who swapped passes with Lovell and just as it seemed the Brickies veteran (Sorry Clint!) had taken too long he unleashed his shot which hit the inside of the side netting and the Brickies were 3-1 up.

Four minutes later Gooding became the provider as he crossed to Lovell in the Stamford area, Lovell got in a good header, which the keeper just got to and the ball bounced off the top of the bar. Stamford though were seeing their chances of clinching a home play off tie receding and stepped up their pressure.

On 73 minutes Pritchard popped up again in the Brickies area this time heading a cross past Williams to pull a goal back for Stamford.
This set up the stage for a grandstand finale and neither side disappointed as Stamford tried to press forward but this tactic was leaving space at the back which it always looked like the speedy Brickies forwards, especially Spice could exploit further. 

On 74 minutes a marvellous ball from Belcher found Mitchell Sherwood who sprinted away from the Stamford defence before crossing to Spice but this time Spice got tangled round the ball which went out harmlessly for a goal kick.

On 86 minutes Sherwood set off again, found Spice and this time Spice forced a good save from  Pledger.  Then on 87 minutes Stamford must have thought that they had equalised as substitute Stuart King let rip with a cannon of a shot which somehow the diving Williams turned round the post. From the corner Angel fired wide.

Stamford were now pushing everyone forward in a desperate attempt to save the game, this was a highly dangerous tactic against the resurrected Brickies and sure enough in the first minute of injury time Belcher won the ball and found Lovell who threaded it through to Spice. Spice had shown just what superlative form he is in and wasn't going to miss this one and he thudded the ball past Pledger for a memorable hat trick.

Seven agonising injury time minutes later the Brickies had sealed a memorable victory, only their second in 11 previous meetings between the two sides.

Sittingbourne: Williams, Sherwood, Hockey (Edwards 41 (Neal 77)), Ainsworth, Campbell (Lawson 90), Marsh, Belcher, Gooding, Lovell, Spice, Taylor, Subs: Deveraux, Hudson.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 April 2006 )
 
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