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Blues kick off year with win

(January 07, 2023)

Sidley United 4 - 2 Hawkhurst United - ESFL Premier Division

Sidley United kicked off 2023 with a victory which lifted them above their visitors and into fifth place in the league.

The Blues began positively and Andy Atkin had already gone close with a header by the time they won a penalty on 19 minutes when Steve Mote was fouled. Atkin's son, Sam, stepped up to take the penalty but he dragged his spot kick and it hit the post and came back out off the post.

That though proved to be the motivator for Sidley to start taking their chances and they went in front on 26 minutes when Will Witham delivered a lovely low cross from the left which was steered past his own goalkeeper by a Hawkhurst defender.

Andy Atkin then doubled the lead with a goal of the season contender as he controlled the ball, turned his man and curled home an effort into the top corner from comfortably 30 yards.

Atkin then made it three when he headed home Gary Hempe's cross from the left into the bottom corner on 40 minutes. Hawkhurst had to drop down to 10 men before the interview as one of their players picked up an injury.

But if the Blues thought the game was done and dusted, they were delivered a message 2 minutes into the second half as Kieren Martin broke through and steered his shot beyond Gray in the Sidley goal to get Hawkhurst on the mark.

Sidley appeared too casual at this point of the game and even with Hawkhurst dropping down to 9 men with another injured player, Sidley failed to make their dominance count until the 64th minute when a sweet Adam Day free kick went over the wall and into the net to make it 4 - 1.

Hawkhurst may have been dealt a slice of luck when the referee showed a yellow card to one of their players for dissent but not issue a sin-bin, perhaps in the knowledge that would put Hawkhurst down to 8 men. They used that reprieve to their advantage on 82 minutes when an underhit backpass towards Gray allowed Martin to nip in and steal a second Hawkhurst goal.

The Blues had the chance to make the scoreline more emphatic when they won another penalty for handball and again the opportunity was given to Atkin Junior. This time he went for power but got too much on his effort and it cannoned back off the crossbar.

However, the Blues held on to take the points and as a result went above Hawkhurst in the table and up to fifth place.

Sidley Team: Gray, Hempe, Bradbury, Aston, Mote, Funnell, Ball, S Atkin, Witham (Haffenden), Day, A Atkin (Hilder).

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