After totally controlling the game for well over an hour, Borough saw victory – and their unbeaten Skrill South record – snatched from them in the final twenty minutes at Staines Town on Saturday.
Borough were simply shell-shocked, and one or two players were visibly upset as they filed off the perfect pitch at Wheatsheaf Park.
Boss Tommy Widdrington was equally frustrated. “That was probably the best we’ve played all season, so to lose in that way was not only disappointing but baffling. The most important thing is to see how we react.”
In the first half Borough were awesome. It was not just pretty passing: it was passing with a purpose and a punch, and Staines just could not keep up.
Simon Johnson cracked a shot just wide and Gary Hart headed over from Lewis Tallack’s excellent cross, and then home defenders put their bodies’ on the line to block hammer-blow shots from both Johnson and Hart.
For a time it felt a bit like the England-Moldova game the previous evening, with Staines stuck in their own penalty area and utterly unable to clear their lines – just waiting to concede.
And if Eastbourne did not have a Steven Gerrard, they did have their very own Simon Johnson – a man who incidentally has also scored at Wembley, as an England Under-19 international.
The loping midfielder was everywhere, and when Matt Aldred played him in, clear on goal, he was cynically blocked by Staines captain Lewis Ferrell at the expense of a yellow card.
But Johnno was not to be denied, and finally on 38 minutes he made the breakthrough in spectacular fashion. From an unlikely position wide on the Borough right, he stunned defenders and spectators alike with a sublime strike across the keeper and into the top far corner.
It was the least the Sports deserved. Staines, their game riddled with what tennis players call unforced errors, had threatened only with isolated breaks, and were fortunate to be trailing by just that single goal at the break.
The early phases of the second half found the Swans a little brighter, and it took a perfect challenge from Adam Watts – replicating one before half-time by Ian Simpemba – to stop Staines danger man Louie Theophanous .
But Eastbourne still held a comfortable upper hand, and there were chances to double the lead. Aldred’s free-kick was deflected wide and then a sharp Jerel Ifil tackle stopped Darren Lok’s run on goal when the eager young striker looked set to score.
It was a pivotal moment, for Staines – refreshed by two attacking substitutions – then swung the game with a 71st minute equaliser. Borough lost a ball on the left side of defence and Huw Johnson scudded a low cross beyond the far post, where Theophanous squeezed it into goal from a tight angle.
Seven minutes later it got worse. Ironically it was the Sports who, pounding forward for a winner, were caught on the break as Max Worsfold raced through a wide open midfield, swapped passes with Theophanus and drilled his shot past Craig Ross for 2-1.
Borough scrabbled to find a way back, but the triumphant Swans were not about to loose their hold on the prize that they had so dramatically grabbed, and the final minutes slid away together with Eastbourne’s proud unbeaten record.
Staines Town: Merson, Ming, Brown, Mgangvoulou, Ferrell, Ifil, Hughes (Pasaj 66m), Lodge (Ferguson 66m), Theophanou, Johnson, Worsfold (Felix 88m).
Borough: Ross 7; Tallack 6, Simpemba 7, Watts 7, Raymond 7; Shephard 6 (Levy 72m), Aldred 8, Gorman 8, Hart 7 (Cole 81m); Johnson 9*; Lok 7 (Akokhia 87m). Unused subs: Stimson, Rowe. Referee: Gary Jerden 6
Attendance: 350 including 80 from Eastbourne
MoM: Simon Johnson