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Sittingbourne v Horsham: MATCH PREVIEW

Match Preview

Sittingbourne v Horsham: MATCH PREVIEW

The Hornets will look to get back to winning ways this Saturday when they take on a Sittingbourne side that sits just one place above them in twelfth, with a near-identical playing record.

Having enjoyed back-to-back victories over Guernsey (4-0) and Hastings United (2-0) to take their league wins to a round dozen, the same as ourselves, the ‘Brickies’ came back down to earth with a bump when they were beaten 3-1 at VCD Athletic last weekend – a match in which both sides ended with ten men. That reverse extended their losing away run to seven matches – a quite remarkable statistic given that they lost just one of their first ten on the road in all competitions – so it is as well for them, and perhaps bad news for Dom di Paola this weekend, that their home record stands up to scrutiny with only Lewes, South Park, Faversham Town and Phoenix Sports taking maximum points away from Woodstock Park this season.

Our own record at the many grounds occupied by Sittingbourne in the past three decades or so is a poor one, with the 3-0 FA Cup 1st qualifying round success at the capacious old Central Park ground in 2000 the only occasion we have enjoyed the thrill of victory in seven visits. There is extra incentive for the Hornets to change that record tomorrow, though, for not only would it lift us above our Kent opponents but it would also go some way towards erasing the memories of Sittingbourne’s 5-1 win at Culver Road back in September – a result that remains our heaviest in the league this season. Just six players remain from the Horsham squad that took on the Brickies that day, while nine of the squad that travelled to VCD a week ago featured in that big win including four of their five goalscorers.

Thankfully, such defeats now seem to have been confined to the history books and an improved run of form has taken the Hornets away from the nether regions of the table to such an extent that, had we reversed last Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Herne Bay, the side would currently be sitting in ninth place. Reflecting on that defeat, that ended our three match winning run, a frustrated Di Paola told the West Sussex County Times “I don’t think we played particularly well. We had some chances and could have had a point from playing badly and we didn’t take them. We switched off for ten minutes, let in two bad goals and came away with nothing; that’s all you ever get in this league if you aren’t at your best. It was really disappointing. We played well after they went 2-0 up but before they scored we gave the ball away six times under no pressure. It isn’t good enough; forcing the play and giving the ball away. We had a clear-cut opportunity at the end to score a goal and we didn’t work the ‘keeper.”

The Hornets will make one enforced change for this match, with Charlie Harris returning to parent club Eastbourne Borough after an eventful loan spell in which he both scored and kept goal in the New Year’s Day victory over Lewes as well as impressing in the wins against VCD Athletic and Whyteleafe. “Charlie is the sort of player I feel we should be looking to build teams around in the future” said Di Paola, despite revealing that he would not be seeking an extension to the month-long loan. “I don’t feel we have much chance of getting Charlie back again, at least not straight away, as Eastbourne are going through a bit of a rough spell at the moment and have a few injuries so I expect him to go straight back into the squad. If he doesn’t, I’d love to take him back!”

A reminder that supporters can travel with the players to this match, with the coach leaving Collyers at 11:45am. Places are still available at £12 return and can be booked through Jeff Barrett on 07712 888980 or jeff.barrett@btinternet.com.

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