Billy Bennett had a hand in all three goals, and a Punjab United red card as Sheppey United defeated Punjab 3-1 on the road.
Manager Ernie Batten made three changes from the side that was on duty against Fisher. Coming in were Danny Smith, Richie Hamill and Junior Aikhionbare with Ben Wilson, Ryan Freeman and Renford Tenyue dropping to the bench.
Sheppey opened the scoring after just 55 seconds! Billy Bennett attacked down the left and hit a pinpoint cross for Jack Midson to plant a header past keeper Max Ovenden for 1-0.
Bennett was again heavily involved in goal two. A bit of Midson creativity saw the veteran hit a great ball to the left which set Roberts attacking Punjab defenders – a pass to Bennett was then toed to Junior Aikhionbare to tap home for 2-0 after just 6 minutes.
The Ites almost grabbed a third goal on 12 minutes – Ashley Sains hitting a volley that Ovenden pushed out to Allan, who blasted over the top. The Ites were in full flow and chances continued to come with Midson forcing Ovenden to save a shot (before being flagged offside), and then Roberts firing just wide when Bennett played him through.
Punjab then pulled a goal back on 23 minutes – Chandler Kasai scoring with a follow-up shot after the Ites failed to clear their lines properly. Despite the setback Sheppey continued to create more chances, first when Birch ventured forward to tee-up Roberts who was blocked on the turn – and then Jahmal Howlett-Mundle hit the post on 29 minutes after breaking free from midfield.
The chances of Punjab clawing something back were heavily dented on 38 minutes. Ashley Sains hit a long ball that Bennett chased onto and was then completely taken out with a high challenge by Ovenden just outside the area – the referee having no option but to send the keeper off with outfield player Diljit Boora the delegated option to take the gloves.
Half-time: Punjab United 1 Sheppey United 2
The second half was pretty much one way traffic with Adam Molloy rarely troubled in the Sheppey goal. 5 minutes after the restart Roberts had a shot blocked before Billy Bennett scored a wonder goal. After picking the ball up on the half way line Bennett knocked the ball past two defenders before lobbing a shot from the edge of the area into the net – a truly magic goal on 53 minutes for 3-1.
Michael Hagan was then given a 25 minute runout when he replaced Junior Aikhionbare.
Jahmal Howlett-Mundle again broke free from midfield on 61 minutes before being heaved down by a challenge – Bennett hitting the resulting free-kick over. Howlett-Mundle was subject to a heavy and late challenge on 68 minutes which caused players to bunch and start pushing each other – Opeyemi Aromona booked once matters were calmed down.
The Ites rested more legs on 73 minutes, James Jeffrey and Renford Tenyue replacing Jack Midson and Taurean Roberts.
Richie Hamill had a great goal ruled out on 81 minutes – his low drive from outside the box ruled out for offside. And then with the game closing out James Jeffrey saw an effort cleared off the line.
Full-Time: Punjab United 1 Sheppey United 3
Sheppey starting 11: 1. Molloy; 12. Birch, 3. Smith, 20. Allan, 5. Sains; 4. Howlett-Mundle, 6. Hamill, 8. Bennett; 11. Roberts, 15. Aikhionbare, 10. Midson
Sheppey subs used: 22. Hagan (for Aikhionbare), 17. Tenyue (for Roberts), 9. Jeffrey (for Midson)
Sheppey subs not used: 23. Wilson, 19. Freeman
A Soundcloud audio interview was taken with Tom Fitzgerald