A Tuesday night trip to Sittingbourne couldn’t hamper Walton Casuals’ play-off chances after Harry Mills and Youssef Bamba struck in quick succession.
Despite a dominant first half, it looked to be a similar story to the frustrating 2-2 draw with Guernsey last week. But Mills’ second penalty in as many games after the break and Bamba’s blistering strike just four minutes later sealed a win.
The win sent Walton into fifth place and above Cray Wanderers, while marking a first clean sheet for Denzel Gerrar in six games.
Tyrell Richardson-Brown returned to the starting XI to accompany Josh Kelly up front and had the first real chance of the game on 20 minutes. Breaking through the defence at speed, his shot sailed wide of the mark but should have tested goalkeeper Harry Brooks.
The Casuals regularly broke out wide and caused constant issues for the hosts with Bamba, Jack Sammoutis and Josh Kelly all brought down in last-ditch challenges.
Walton came close again just a few minutes later with Richardson-Brown chasing a through ball. His pass across the box couldn’t quite fall to the feet of Bamba, although the winger managed to collect the ball, turn past a defender and watch his strike from the edge of the box scrape past the post.
Just before the break, Kelly, who needs one more goal to climb into the club’s top 15 all-time goalscorers, saw an effort well saved by the goalkeeper and tipped over the bar.
He was also the first to strike after the restart and forced another good save from Brooks. After Jack Sammoutis tracked back to intercept Germaine Agyemang – who looked to be the main threat for Sittingbourne – the midfielder found Kelly, who beat the defender with a tidy back heel but saw his shot knocked wide by the goalkeeper.
After a lengthy period of dominance, the deadlock was finally broken with Sammoutis once again finding Kelly, who was hastily brought down as he prepared to strike at goal. After converting the equaliser 10 days earlier, Mills stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to send the Sittingbourne number one the wrong way.
And minutes later, the lead was extended to two. The movement of Kelly yet again caused problems for the Brickies and his attacking threat resulted in a corner. Played short to Bamba, the winger beat his man before slamming the ball into the net at the back post while leaving Brooks helplessly watching on.
Walton were comfortable with their two-goal advantage and looked to retain possession while launching regular attacks at speed. In a game with just one yellow card, the foul count kept rising as Sammoutis weaved his way through the centre of the defence. Being chopped down 20 yards out, Kelly stepped up for the free-kick and tested Brooks with a low-driven effort.
The occasional confusion at the back was always recovered well by the visitors, and Bamba had one more chance late in the game after launching an attack out wide. He was unable to create an end product but left full-back Josh Dorling unable to cope with his speed and power.
Richardson-Brown also had one final chance to get on the scoresheet after Joe Hicks launched the ball forward, with the towering striker heading the ball over the final defender. His shot sailed wide again before he was replaced by Sean McCormack, although the additional introductions of Lartey Sarpong and Alex Kelly allowed Walton to see out the three points comfortably.