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Sittingbourne and hosts Littlehampton ‘stunned’ by late postponement of their Isthmian South East game | Brickies boss Ryan Maxwell brands decision a ‘shambles’

Ryan Maxwell criticised the late postponement of Sittingbourne’s match at Littlehampton – a decision that left both clubs “stunned”.

Brickies boss Maxwell branded the referee’s call a “shambles” after last night’s game was called off just over half an hour before kick-off.

Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell. Picture: Ian Scammell
Sittingbourne manager Ryan Maxwell. Picture: Ian Scammell

Both teams were ready for action but the pitch was deemed unplayable.

“Tonight’s game is OFF! Both clubs are stunned,” wrote Littlehampton on social media platform X.

They added: “We can only apologise to Sittingbourne and their fans who have travelled, who are just as surprised at this decision as we are.”

“Shambles tonight’s game was called off!” said Brickies boss Maxwell. “Like life, everyone’s too soft these days.

“Feel for our fans but big thank you to Littlehampton who treated us really well. Top hospitality and manners.”

In a further post, Littlehampton said: “Not rained for two days and pitch has been cut and rolled twice since Saturday’s game.

“Both clubs are amazed the game is off as we all feel it’s playable.”

Maxwell, meanwhile says there’s no room for complacency if Sittingbourne are to stay in title contention.

The Brickies’ seven-match winning run in Isthmian South East ended on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat against Chichester.

It was a sobering loss for the hosts who went into the game high on confidence as the form team in the division.

Maxwell felt complacency was a factor as Sittingbourne errors led to the visitors’ first two goals, while a third followed in added time.

“I think we were caught out and got complacent - no doubt about it,” said Maxwell, whose third-placed side are 10 points behind new leaders Cray Valley.

“It’s easy to think after seven wins in a row that you just need to turn up but that’s not us.

“I have to remember that some of the lads who have come from different clubs, it might be new to them to be winning games consecutively and what that takes.

“We’re aware of that now and we can’t afford to let a result like that happen again to stay in this title race.

“There will be a real push for a reaction.

“We need one and hopefully this is the last lesson we need to learn this season.”

Maxwell made clear his disappointment at the manner of Sittingbourne’s defeat, a result which saw them slip nine points behind leaders Ramsgate.

But constructive talks were the order of the day rather than chucking teacups.

“It’s horses for courses,” said Maxwell.

“You’ve got to know your dressing room and know your players.

“Of course, I could have gone mad but there needs to be a cause and you need to get the best out of your players going forward.

“I think going mad sometimes can be just because you get wrapped up in the result.

“You need to understand why you’ve lost and if you can’t explain that to players, you’re not going to get much out of them going forward in terms of learning and development.

“Believe me, they knew I was disappointed but I felt it was more important we actually discussed it properly and got to the root cause.

“Were we complacent? Were we a bit casual? Was there a lack of real desire, that we’ve had in the previous games?

Mitchell May had Sittingbourne’s best chance against Chichester on Saturday. Picture: Ian Scammell
Mitchell May had Sittingbourne’s best chance against Chichester on Saturday. Picture: Ian Scammell

“Was it a mixture of a number of things? That’s what we got out of it in the end, so we start moving on.”

Sittingbourne started brightly enough at Woodstock but mistakes were punished and they couldn’t recover.

“We started off the better side - that’s a fact,” said Maxwell.

“We gave them a goal by not clearing our lines.

“When it’s got to go, it’s got to go, but we’ve taken an extra touch and, ultimately, Harry Hope’s got robbed of the ball.

“He apologised but that’s only the first goal.

“The second goal, we’ve cleared it across the pitch.

“I’d expect better from an experienced player like Alex Bentley but he’s cleared it to their winger and he’s run on and scored.

“Coming in at 2-0 down, it was a shock to the system, but these things happen.

“Second half, we needed to score to make it 2-1. Mitchell May had a fantastic chance and if that goes in, I’d have fancied us.

“We didn’t work the keeper enough to justify getting back in the game, and then they’ve scored from a set-piece to make it three.

“It’s one of those games where you’re scratching your head to say why or how have we let that happen?

“Good luck to Chichester. They deserved to win but it wasn’t a 3-0 game.”

A positive for Sittingbourne, besides an excellent crowd of 330, saw youth-team defender Kristian Wigg named among the substitutes.

He didn’t get on but it was a big moment for the youngster and demonstrated the club’s commitment to their youth section.

“He’s a big lad - 6ft4in,” said Maxwell. “We’re looking at the youth.

“We’re trying to keep that relationship where if you’re doing well, you’ll get opportunities.

“I want them to be around the first team and have a feeling of what’s like it’s to be around that environment.

“He said he got a lot from it and he might be involved in the future.

“There’s a couple of them doing well, so he’s had a taste of it and there might be more.

“I’m keen to see how he gets on.

“The fans love to see players come up through the youth ranks.

“Talking of the fans, they were fantastic on Saturday. They didn’t stop singing all afternoon.

“I’ve never come across it before, fans who’ll sing you off after a 3-0 defeat.”

Sittingbourne visit Hythe this Saturday (3pm).

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