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Sittingbourne boss Darren Blackburn says they would have struggled against an average Sunday morning side in the first half of their defeat at Phoenix Sports


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Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn has reminded the players of his expectations after their weekend defeat.

The Brickies conceded a last-minute winner at bottom side Phoenix after Harrison Pont was sent off, going down 2-1.

Sittingbourne captain Kane Rowland on the ball in the defeat at Phoenix Picture: Ken Medwyn
Sittingbourne captain Kane Rowland on the ball in the defeat at Phoenix Picture: Ken Medwyn

But it was arguably a poor first-half performance that frustrated Blackburn more than anything and he has stressed the need to deliver over 90 minutes going into this Saturday’s Isthmian South East home game against Hythe.

“We cannot be a 45-minute team,” said Blackburn, after his side fell seven points behind the play-off pack.

“The absolute basic expectation from any manager is to run around and work hard and then things happen for you.

“Flair, talent, quality, ability, that all comes out naturally if you work hard.

“If you don’t do the basics and make poor decisions, you’ll lose to any team and the way we played in the first half, we’d have struggled against an average Sunday morning team, no disrespect.

"Credit to Phoenix, they played well, but we just weren’t at it.

“They’re bottom of the league but they’ve been in good form under Steve O’Boyle, so there was certainly no complacency on my part.

“That was a big part of my team-talk but we looked like we were going through the motions in the first half.

Action from Sittingbourne's 2-1 defeat at Phoenix Sports Picture: Ken Medwyn
Action from Sittingbourne's 2-1 defeat at Phoenix Sports Picture: Ken Medwyn

“If we’d gone there and imprinted ourselves on the game then maybe we could have got a result.

“I gave them an almighty rollicking at half-time and the positive I take is I got a response because we played very well in the second half, but then Harrison has shown a bit of petulance and been sent off and we’ve conceded a sloppy winner.”

Blackburn says defender Pont will learn from his second red card of the season, which has left him facing a four-game ban.

“It’s a David Beckham-style flick, like at the World Cup, totally innocuous,” said Blackburn.

“He told me their player stood on his hand, so I understand why he reacted, but you can’t do that.

“He’s got to learn from that and, to be fair, he’s apologised after the game.

“We’ve gone from being in control and then the tide swings back their way.

“Give any team a sniff and there isn’t a manager in this league who won’t smell blood and see an opportunity to win a game.”

Ahmed Abdulla cancelled out Wale Odedoyin’s first-half strike but ex-Brickie Josh Dorling won it for Phoenix at the death.

Ahmed Abdulla heads Sittingbourne's leveller at Phoenix Ken Medwyn
Ahmed Abdulla heads Sittingbourne's leveller at Phoenix Ken Medwyn

Duane Ofori-Acheampong has returned to Hungerford after two months on loan at Sittingbourne.

He scored five times in his first month and while the goals dried up in his second month, the big striker was missed at Phoenix.

“He was happy to stay but Hungerford’s manager wanted him back,” said Blackburn.

“I respect that and thank him for the two months we had him.

“I was hoping we wouldn’t miss him but on reflection he would have taken one of the chances we had.

“He’s the one who’s been playing down the middle for the last five, six, seven weeks and he would have a bit more confidence in front of goal than the others."

There’s good news on the injury front for Sittingbourne with defensive midfielder Harry Miller back in training for the first time this season.

The Brickies host Burgess Hill in a rearranged game on Tuesday.

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