Borough booked a prestige date at the new Amex Stadium in July with an emphatic Sussex Senior Cup victory over Crawley Down on Tuesday.
Brighton’s splendid new ground will host the final on July 16 but in the more modest setting of the County FA’s Lancing headquarters – and on a less than perfect playing surface – Borough produced a fluent display, which was more than enough to see off their County League opponents.
With two or three senior players rested, Eastbourne still fielded a strong line-up, and Garry Wilson and Nick Greenwood were pleased with their younger squad members.
“It proves we have some excellent youngsters,” said Greenwood, “We now look to them to step up to the plate and become a part of the resurgence of the club in Conference South.”
Youth certainly made its mark. Steven Brinkhurst, often a bit-part player this season, was bursting with power and running down the right, Simon Johnson’s intelligent passing was pivotal in midfield, and Ethan Strevett hit the goal of the night with a spinning volley in the second half.
Alongside them in midfield one of the team’s older heads, Matt Crabb, produced an absolute master class and – capped by some explosive finishing – it was too much for Crawley Down.
In fairness, the village club were at least a couple of notches above the thud and blunder which County League football can occasionally fall to. Unbeaten for many months they were purposeful, kept their shape and kept their heads, scoring two second half goals to earn a respectable scoreline.
Eastbourne sloppily missed a couple of early chances, but then made amends with two quick goals. On 12 minutes Brinkhurst cracked a shot against the base of the post and a grateful Richard Pacquette popped in the rebound. Two minutes later from a corner, Crabb’s shot on the turn doubled the lead.
After the break the game was sagging until the hour mark, when Johnson’s blind-side run and spectacular near miss re-ignited the action. Within a minute it was 3-0 through Strevett’s dazzling shot on the turn.
And the 358-strong crowd enjoyed four more goals in a highly entertaining final 20 minutes. Sullivan might have been offside as he reduced the deficit to 3-1, but George Purcell ran through a tiring defence to bag Borough’s fourth. Then Wes Millis gave Down faint hope with a power header from a corner, before substitute Jamie Taylor flicked in Crabb’s corner, to nail a very good night for a Borough side who, for all the disappointments, seem to be finishing the season in upbeat mood.
“It’s going to be a fantastic occasion at the new stadium,” said Greenwood, “It will give us something to focus on at the start of the new season.”
Borough: Banks 7, Baker 7, Elphick 7 (Jenkins 45, 7), Demetriou 7, Brinkhurst 8, Johnson 8, Strevett 8, Matt Crabb 9*, Pacquette 7 (sub Taylor 66, 7), Purcell 7.
Subs not used: Austin, Hutchinson, Lightwood.
Crawley Down: Hunter, Ransom, Dan Sullivan, Jones, Swetman, Curtis (sub Pook 78min), Wood, Millis, Cane, Nick Sullivan, Watson.
Referee: Carl Brook 9