Eastbourne Town boss Danny Bloor shuffled his pack for the visit of Metropolitan Police on Wednesday, but after seeing his side edged out after two lapses in concentration, he admitted it was a case of déjà vu.
Four days earlier Town had run Ryman division one south leaders Bognor Regis close at the Saffrons and they did the same to the second-placed Police in midweek. But both ultimately ended in defeat, and no defeat – brave or otherwise – does anything for a points total.
On Saturday, Bognor Regis scored with their first attack and Met Police followed their lead, with Robbie Hayworth heading home after 12 minutes. The difference was that on Wednesday Town equalised – through an own goal – before substitute Gary Drewett headed a winner shortly after half- time.
Bloor said afterwards, “It’s déjà vu of Saturday really, a similar game, playing sides who are first and second in the league. It was about being positive, and we matched them and on another day could have got something out of both games; it’s that little bit of quality.
“We’ve got to look at the positives, you can’t be negative.”
Town’s back line rarely appears fragile, with vocal skipper Greg Manton at its heart, but their weakness for conceding early goals is a worry. Less so is their response to these setbacks. After 12 minutes, a right-wing cross was allowed to fall to Hayworth, who directed his header past a motionless Kieron Thorp. The comeback wasn’t quite emphatic, but it was certainly confident.
Police immediately lost any stride they might have briefly found and surrendered possession cheaply. It was one of these misplaced passes which led to the hosts’ equaliser.
Youth team graduate Gianluca del Gaudio picked up the loose ball in midfield and measured a fine pass to Sam Crabb, who had raced clear of the left full-back.
And with Dean Brooks loitering in the centre of the penalty area, the Met’s Steve Noakes was forced to turn Crabb’s dangerous cross past his own goalkeeper.
Town dominated the remainder of the half, but despite the presence of Brooks, the defender-turned-striker, they struggled to carve out any notable chances.
Six minutes after the interval, this failing was punished when Marvin Farrell got lost under a cross and Drewett took advantage to guide his header under Thorp.
Greg Manton and Matt Ferdinando both came close for Town before full-time, but opposing ‘keeper Mo Maan was never called into serious action and Police might have added to their advantage on the break.
Town: Thorp 7, Davidson 6, Farrell 5, G. Manton 6, Elliott 6, Patton 7, Ferdinando 7, Crabb 7, Brooks 7 (B. Manton, 78 mins), Del Gaudio 6 (Koroma, 85 mins), James 7. MOM: Brett Patton. Subs not used: Simmonds, Janneh, Kessack.
Referee: Mr H Lennard 6.