MOLESEY - AWAY / RYMAN LEAGUE DIV 1 SOUTH FINAL SCORE: SITTINGBOURNE 2 MOLESEY 0 PLAYED 18TH FEBRUARY 2017
Victories over top teams like Greenwich Borough, Hythe Town and Walton Casuals have been high points of Sittingbourne’s season.
But it’s been their consistent ability to see off sides near the wrong end of the table that has made them a top-half team.
It took them over an hour to get the better of struggling Molesey, but it was comfortable in the end and gave home supporters their first chance to cheer a Sittingbourne win at Woodstock since early December.
But even more important was keeping a clean sheet – for the first time in 15 games.
Sittingbourne made just one change from the team that played Herne Bay on Tuesday night, with Joe Loft resuming in midfield and Jack Steventon switching back to central defence. After an impressively cool debut, Jardel Bunda-Kamara was unlucky to miss out.
It was a lovely afternoon, with an air of spring about it, and there was a lovely start to it, too, with the presentation of an award – and a spectacular picture by Ken Medwyn - to the legendary Hicham Akhazzan to mark his 100th goal for the club.
Sittingbourne began the match strongly and front-runner David Abe might even have scored in the opening minute when his pace surprised Molesey keeper Allen. Abe blocked his clearance but the ball rebounded over the goal.
There was a lovely move down the right by youngsters Josh Wisson and Craig Wilkins, combining with Sam Welch, but soon after Wilkins went off injured and Sittingbourne lost their early momentum.
They conceded possession a bit too easily, but Molesey’s finishing wasn’t anywhere near as efficient as some of their build-up play, and Simon Overland was comparatively untroubled in the Sittingbourne goal, apart from having to come out to block with his legs a shot by Lodge just before half-time.
Molesey went even closer just after the break when Welch cleared off the line after Grobler had a free header from a corner.
Sittingbourne began to get more of a grip on the game but it still needed an immaculately-timed tackle in his own area by impressive sub Gil Carvahlo to stop a dangerous Molesey move.
The breakthrough arrived on 71 minutes when Conrad Lee’s right-wing corner was powerfully met by captain colossus Jono Richardson to head home his sixth goal of yet another excellent season.
Molesey tried to press forward but left themselves under-manned at the back and when Sittingbourne broke from defending a corner they had a three-on-two advantage. Abe used the supporting runners as dummies and kept racing in on goal before scoring his first goal for the club in nearly three years with a powerful strike.
It could have been three near the end when popular unsung hero Lee worked his way clean through on goal but he just failed to beat the keeper in a one-on-one.
No late alarms this time as Sittingbourne eased calmly to a welcome win with the defence taking a major share of the honours for ending the run of goals conceded.
It was nothing like as dramatic or confrontational as the midweek clash with Herne Bay, but enjoyable and ultimately more rewarding in the end.