Fresh from a two-week hiatus as a result of Whyteleafe’s withdrawal from the FA Cup, competitive football finally returns to the TerraPura. A touch under eleven months since Cray Wanderers ran out 3-0 winners on that late October afternoon, this much anticipated homecoming is marked by the visit of Sittingbourne as they travel West to Sussex.
Last time out
Since his arrival last November, this will be manager Ross Standen’s long-awaited first home league game in charge. For all the ominous omens that emerged during a strenuous pre-season, Standen took pride in his side’s 1-1 season opener with Cray Valley Paper Mills.
The Hawks displayed real signs of encouragement despite finding themselves damaged by absentees. James Fraser cancelled out Ade Adeyemo’s 33rd minute strike soon after the restart with a close-range prod into the net as the first point of the campaign was deservedly ensured.
Undoubtedly buoyed by their 4-0 opening day home victory over newly promoted Lancing, The Brickies currently occupy the league’s top spot after the initial batch of fixtures. More recently, that same side lost by the same scoreline in an FA Cup replay with Littlehampton on Wednesday evening that followed a 2-2 draw last weekend.
A yo-yo start to proceedings for Saturday’s visitors, it will see the return of Ahmed Abdulla who recorded a 21 minute, first-half hat-trick in the 4-0 romping of Lancing a fortnight ago. Striking indeed, Michael Akin was the other name on the scoresheet as he confirmed his side would sit atop the league with a finish twelve minutes from time.
In spite of the rather miniature sample size, The Brickies — fronted by manager Darren Blackburn — finished last year’s curtailed season in 18th place, having recorded one win from their five league fixtures.
As the sides failed to meet last season, the last time these two sides faced each other was back in early February of 2020. A Saturday afternoon kick-off at the TerraPura Ground, it was Abdulla who ironically gave the hosts a 1-0 win over their Kent counterparts.
The return fixture was a month prior, under the lights at the Central Park Stadium on a frosty Tuesday evening. On this occasion, Duane Ofori-Acheampong opened the scoring for the Hawks before James Witt struck on the stroke of the hour to rescue a point.