Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn won’t get carried away by their fine form

Sittingbourne is having his best season in years, but manager Darren Blackburn is keeping his feet on the ground.

The Brickies, seventh, are just four points behind the Southeast Isthmus play-offs at Christmas following their Ahmed Abdulla-inspired 3-1 win over Whitehawk on Saturday.

Ahmed Abdulla celebrates with his Brickies teammates Photo: Ken Medwyn

Midfielder Abdulla has scored twice – including a stunning strike from the halfway line – after also noting Harrison Pont’s opening goal as Blackburn’s side have three wins and one draw in their last four games .

The Christmas schedule sees them visiting rivals Swale Faversham on Monday before welcoming Sevenoaks on New Years Day.

Sittingbourne is in good shape even with the blow of losing new signing Alex Flisher to a shoulder injury, but Blackburn knows things can change quickly.

“I’m still waiting for the bubble to burst!” Blackburn said. “He’s the pessimist in me.

“I had a baptism of fire in management at Hollands & Blair.

“After some good results we lost eight on the rebound or whatever and, if anything, that experience has been very helpful to me because I’m desperate to get three points now.

“Where it used to be, I now run the kitchen sink, defensively or offensively, to get something out of every game.

“What we’re trying to do is keep the guys up and keep that belief, that hunger, that desire, and then who knows what’s going to happen?

“But our feet are firmly on the ground because we know in this league that just as you can go 10 undefeated, you can easily go 10 without a win.”

The illness – although he tested negative for Covid – left Sittingbourne without Duane Ofori-Acheampong against Whitehawk, but they found a way to win without their five-goal lender.

Abdulla has ensured that against his former club with a pair of goal-of-the-season contenders, including this long-term special.

Harrison Pont celebrates giving Sittingbourne the advantage against Whitehawk Photo: Ken Medwyn
Harrison Pont celebrates giving Sittingbourne the advantage against Whitehawk Photo: Ken Medwyn

“We noticed that the goalie was often out of line in the first half,” said Blackburn.

“Kane Rowland played about five minutes before Abs and hit the post and I think that planted the seed.

“You could see what Abs was going to do after his first touch and it was a nice strike.

“For someone who kicks the ball the way he does, he probably doesn’t let go often enough.

“It was against his old club and while I’m not fully aware of why they let him go, we’re more than happy to have him.

“It was a great goal but for me his second from the edge of the box is just as good.

“It was like the three he scored against Lancing on the first day of the season.

“He has bags of capacity. He would be the first to admit he probably wasn’t as fit as he would have liked at first, but he’s got a bit between his teeth and one thing you can never question is his quality. .

“He’ll try things that might not always work, but that’s an integral part of creative players. “

Blackburn crosses his fingers for Flisher to quickly recover from his shoulder injury.

Alex Flisher injured his shoulder in the win over Whitehawk Photo: Ken Medwyn
Alex Flisher injured his shoulder in the win over Whitehawk Photo: Ken Medwyn

The Brickies are still missing, injured duo Toby Ajala and Danny Taylor, while professional engagements have restricted Luke Girt’s involvement.

“Flish made her shoulder jump,” Blackburn said. “We will support him as best we can and hope he will not be away for too long.

“He’s recovering quickly. He might even take pain relievers and pat himself on the shoulder.

Sittingbourne is looking for a brace against Faversham after a 3-1 home win over James Collins’ side in August.

“They don’t come much bigger than the local Faversham derby against Sittingbourne for us,” Blackburn said.

“I know James, he’s approaching every game the right way and I’m sure both teams will be well prepared.

“We have to try to keep the guys calm and professional and keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

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