EASTBOURNE Borough are heading back in the right direction after three successive league defeats.
A trio of headed goals contributed to their success against never-say-die Staines and now only goal difference denies them a position in the play-off places.
After an epic mid-week FA Cup replay, it was amazing that there were few signs of tired legs on a soggy Saturday at Priory Lane when summer seemed to become winter in the space of just a few hours.
While boss Tommy Widdrington will no doubt have a few words about the lack of concentration at the back which cost Borough two goals and could have allowed Staines to get back in the game, the quality of attacking football warmed the hearts of the 514 fans who braved the elements.
Widdrington admitted, “The game could have finished 8-3 or 9-3. But let’s not forget that most of that team played 120 minutes of football the previous Tuesday night and to a man I thought they were excellent.
“As regards where we are at this stage of the season – our league position and being in the next round of the FA Cup – I cannot really ask for more.”
It was good to see Elliott Charles back to his menacing best up front with Gavin McCallum also a worthy candidate for MoM in midfield, while the promise of 17-year-old Ryan Worrall was there for all to see as he played a major part in a number of enterprising, attacking moves.
Widdrington is also delighted with the progress of the youngster. “Ryan is a confident boy, he has signed a contract with us and he’s now a part of my first team squad. It’s great to see youngsters like him coming through and Jay Lovett deserves a pat on the back for the way in which he is managing the academy boys.”
Borough suffered an early blow when Simon Johnson was forced to retire with double vision in the 23rd minute after the ball hit him full in the face from a fierce free-kick.
At that stage, the visitors were holding their own, but they were stunned by two Eastbourne goals in three minutes.
First Charles climbed high to head home Gavin McCallum’s corner from the right (27 minutes) and then Adam Watts met Worrall’s free-kick from the left with his head for a 2-0 advantage.
When Ian Simpemba’s glancing header beat keeper Jack Turner from another McCallum corner just before half-time, it seemed it was all over bar the shouting.
But the Swans, struggling next to bottom in Conference South, came out fighting in the second half with manager Marcus Gayle having made a double substitution that saw the introduction of Brendan Kiernan and Calum Willock for Joe Aribo and Bajram Pashaaj.
Leading Staines scorer Louie Theophanous took advantage of some sloppy home defending to pull a goal back on the hour, only for Sam Beale to make it 4-1 with a superb, low 20-yard drive into the corner of the net in the 69th minute.
But Staines refused to lie down and Kiernan’s shot took a deflection off Watts for a 4-2 scoreline which could have been even closer but for the bravery of keeper Lewis Carey who went down at the feet of Theophanus in a one-on-one situation.
There was still time for Chris M’Boungou to head wide from four yardswith the Borough defence once again wide open.
But while both managers will have concerns over defensive frailties, nothing was going to spoil the satisfaction from this welcome win.
After all, there can be few complaints after five days in which a difficult hurdle was cleared in the FA Cup and a sequence of defeats ended so convincingly in the league.
The smiles which were fading a week ago are now well and truly back on the faces of Priory Lane supporters.
Eastbourne: Carey, Hamilton, Beale, Aldred, Simpemba, Watts, McCallum, Worrall (Lok 67), Khinda-John, Johnson (Foot 24), Charles (Lovett 73). Unused subs: Bown, Taylor.
Staines: Turner, Felix (Ngamvoulou (60), Worsfold, James-Lewis, M’Boungou, Ifil, Lodge, Aribo (Kiernan 45), Theophanous, Pashaj (Willock 45), Buchanan. Unused subs: Bassett, Neville.
MoM: Elliott Charles, a goal scored, a goal disallowed and much hard work in between.
Referee: L. Wood.
Bookings: Khinda-John, Johnson (Borough), James-Lewis, Kiernan (Staines).