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Isthmian South East Sittingbourne host Cray Valley at Woodstock on Saturday after drawing with high-flying Chatham Town

Sittingbourne look to be putting any relegation fears behind them - but manager Ryan Maxwell knows there is work still to be done.

Back-to-back home wins last week were followed by Saturday’s 1-1 draw at title-chasing Chatham Town. The Brickies are fourth bottom in Isthmian South East, but within easy reach of mid-table security.

Match action between Chatham and Sittingbourne on Saturday Picture: Allen Hollands
Match action between Chatham and Sittingbourne on Saturday Picture: Allen Hollands

Maxwell has certainly had an impact since taking over in early January, with an influx of new players following him to Woodstock.

Two more could be arriving before this Saturday’s home game against Cray Valley in what he hopes will be the final shuffle to his squad this term.

Maxwell said: “We might make one or two changes and then won’t be looking to make any more.

“I do want to make an adjustment and then that will be us settled - providing we don’t have suspensions and injuries. I will be happy with what I have got. I am happy with the squad I have assembled.

“The job isn’t complete - we are very much aware of where we are. We have to make sure we get the job done. It’s been going okay but still a way to go.

“We’re in good form, sixth or seventh in the form guide currently, and I want us to get into the top three to be satisfied, which we can do.

“We want to get away from that bottom six as quickly as possible and see what we can do towards the end of the season.”

A slow start at Chatham saw the Brickies fall behind to a 13th-minute Simon Cooper goal, but they got back on level terms when Joe Ellul equalised just before the hour.

“It was bittersweet for me,” Maxwell said. “We were playing a side with a really good home record. The second half we responded and created a lot of chances and we did what we should have done in the first half.”

That point followed last Tuesday’s 2-0 home victory over East Grinstead. Chaynie Burgin opened the scoring on 56 minutes and a Mitchell May penalty shortly after sealed the points.

“We were very good,” said Maxwell. “The performance was very strong. We were very comfortable, very controlled. That is the type of performance we wanted to take into Saturday.

“We got it in the second half but not the first, which was a little disappointing, but you can’t have it all!”

Manager Ryan Maxwell is turning things around at Sittingbourne Picture: Randolph File
Manager Ryan Maxwell is turning things around at Sittingbourne Picture: Randolph File

The visit of Cray Valley is the first of three successive home games. Chichester head to Sittingbourne on Tuesday night before Three Bridges make the trip next weekend.

With new personnel making a difference for the Brickies, Maxwell recognised the need for a bit of team bonding and they had a busy night last Thursday.

He said: “We went out for pizza and pool, had a quiz and watched the Manchester United [versus Barcelona] game. It is so important for the lads to get to know each other. That can sometimes be more beneficial than training, a great chance for the lads to get together and have a few laughs.

“Mitch won the killer pool tournament and that was good for him after his goal on the Tuesday.”

Fellow striker Burgin had made it two in two after finding the net from the edge of the box with a superb effort.

Maxwell said: “He has been playing so well and I don’t think he’s got the credit he deserves.

“He looks like a target man, he is a target man, but he does a lot more than that. He scored a cracking goal and I am absolutely delighted for him.

“He is not judged on his goals, we judge him on his all-round performance and it is great to see him being a threat. He should have scored on Saturday but performance-wise he has been great.”

Six of Maxwell’s first nine games in charge have been away so it will be a refreshing change for him and the new players to experience a flurry of home fixtures.

He said: “We have played some of the top sides away, Ramsgate, Beckenham, Chatham and Ashford, and now we have a little cluster of home games and we’re looking forward to them.

“But, like we saw with Chatham, that doesn’t always guarantee you will win.

“We have to make sure we approach those games in the right manner, which we will.”

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