Whyteleafe's season began with a disappointing defeat in a lively encounter, where a draw would certainly have been a fairer reflection of the play.
The Leafe side showed huge change from last term with just keeper Rob O'Hara, right-back Jason Goodchild and Captain Paul Scott retained in the starting line-up. Welcome returnees included the experienced pairing Robbie Kember and Lee Sidwell in midfield along with Billy Harding and Callum MacLean who have both been sadly plagued by injury in previous campaigns.
In the summer sunshine it was the visitors who started the brighter with Sidwell and Kember controlling midfield, although only speculative early strikes from Darren Watson and Paul Scott resulted, both somewhat wayward, whilst the hosts offered nothing in reply.
On the half hour Leafe began to impose greater pressure, notably when a Sean Bremner throw was sent across goal by Sidwell's head, just in front of the well placed Harding who could not get the touch required. Shortly before the break Nigel Ikolodo span and shot from the edge of the box, his strike narrowly wide of the post. Honours even at half-time but Leafe certainly the stronger team.
Immediately after the break 'Bourne took an undeserved lead when a careless free-kick was conceded by Bremner on the edge of the area. Bradley Spice struck his fierce drive past the static O'Hara into the net.
Leafe immediately set about finding an equaliser with Kember sending in a low cross from the right that just eluded Scott at the far post. In the 54th minute fine work from Harding forced a corner and Kember's well placed effort was met with a fierce header home by the muscular Watson for 1-1.
Seven minutes later Watson again met a Kember corner, but headed over the bar. Still Leafe pressed with substitute Sam Butler impressive down the left, but some stoic Sittingbourne defending prevented any clear cut chances.
A huge blow came Leafe's way in the 80th minute when Bremner again made a rash challenge, this time inside the area, on Hicham Akhazzan, to concede a penalty, competently struck home by Akhazzan himself. The nearest to a Leafe reply was substitute Callum MacLean who shot wide in the 88th minute after Sidwell and Goodchild had combined well once again.
A disappointing result, but manager Stuart Massey will take heart from a confident display, at times dominating play and a strong team performance.
Whyteleafe: O'Hara, Goodchild, Bremner (Karoma 87), Brown, Coleman R, Sidwell, Harding (Butler 72), Kember R, Watson (MacLean 72), Ikolodod, Scott. Subs not used: Wilson, Banks.