The end of the season arrived just in the nick of time for Eastbourne Borough Football Club.
A decent run of results in February and March ensured Boro’ retained their Blue Square South status with a game to spare.
Saturday’s game was always going to be something of a dead rubber with Salisbury in a comfortable mid table position. Boro’ lacked energy and ideas and performed like a side jaded from their recent relegation battle.
There was little riding on the outcome and it certainly had a distinct end of season feel. Throw in a stiff wind with heavy rain into the mix and it’s no wonder this match will not linger long in the memory of the 500 or so who attended.
Skipper Ben Austin missed the game due to a family wedding while fellow long-serving players Matt Smart, Darren Baker and Matt Crabb all featured in what could be their last game for the club.
Indeed Baker, who has made 949 appearances for his home town club was substituted with 25 minutes remaining and waved to the crowd as though he knew it may be his last.
Of the three stalwarts who featured on Saturday, Crabb could be the one with the best chance of continuing his distinguished service at Priory Lane next season, although boss Tommy Widdrington refused to be drawn on who will be in and out next season.
He said, “We are not in a position to say as yet. We have a lot of talking to do and before we are able to announce anything concrete.
“There is a reason why this team has struggled and myself and Alan feel we know the reasons why. The chairman has entrusted us with the job of sorting it out and we will do our best to do that.
“Players have been used towards the end of the season because I felt they could do the job but it could be a different matter next season.”
Widdrington drafted in some decent players to help Boro’ narrowly avoid the drop.
Stuart Anderson, Alex Lacey and Mitch Walker were the pick of the bunch, while Ellis Remy, Charles Ademeno and Marvin Hamilton-Omole all played their part.
Widdrington admitted he would love to see Anderson, Walker and Lacey back at Priory Lane next season but serious negotiations will have to take place to secure their services.
“We need to discuss budgets and see what is available. We are in times of austerity and this club is no different. We will see what we have and then we will be in a better position to decide.
“Alex (Lacey and Stuart (Anderson) are both contracted players at the moment but if there is a chance, I would love to have them back.
“Stuart was not just our man of the match (Saturday) he was the best player on the pitch by a mile.
“Alex was superb for us while he was here. He is a young lad but he did a man’s job for us. He is a player I like and I feel he has tremendous potential.
“But whatever happens, today’s display and a few others that myself and Alan have witnessed shows we have a complete rebuilding job on our hands.”
Three second half goals for Salisbury inflicted defeat on Borough in this dour end of season fixture.
Marvin Williams, Charlie Griffin and Dan Fitchett were all on target for the visitors as Gary Hart headed a late consolation goal for Tommy Widdrington’s side.
Attacking with the wind, Boro enjoyed the majority of the fist half possession.
Ellis Remy was a handful up front but never looked like scoring while Simon Johnson had the best of the early efforts when his 32nd minute 25-yard strike fizzed over the bar.
Matt Smart’s dipping cross-shot dropped over the bar before Remy had a header saved after a rare piece of slick build-up play.
After the break Salisbury used the conditions to their advantage and created the better of the chances.
Clark Masters, in goal for the suspended Mitch Walker, produced a good low save to deny Griffin and Stuart Sinclair blasted the follow-up over the bar.
They took the lead on the hour when Masters spilled Griffin’s low shot and Williams easily tapped in from close range.
Just 10 minutes later Griffin increased the lead with a delightful 20-yard curling effort and on 78 minutes Fitchett finished well after good work from Williams.
Hart provided Priory Lane with one final cheer for the season when he headed home Anderson’s 88th minute corner.
Widdrington said, “It was a disappointing end to the season.
“I’m gutted for the fans, who like myself and Alan Kimble (head coach), got cold and wet watching that.”