Eastbourne Borough 1,
Maidstone United 0
A pulsating, tightly-fought contest at Priory Lane on Saturday saw Eastbourne Borough to their fourth win on the bounce – and this one was the best of the season so far.
Each of Borough’s victories has been by a one-goal margin, and Saturday’s bumper 1,011 crowd was kept on edge until the very end as Maidstone strove to level the game, after Nathan Collier had put the home side ahead on the half-hour. As across the County, a minute’s silence for the Shoreham victims – especially the two young Worthing United footballers – was poignantly observed. Both sides took a few minutes to size each other up, before Lok almost gave Borough a 9th minute lead, darting between centre-back and keeper to direct an angled lob wide of the far post.
His Maidstone counterpart Alex Akrofi should have scored on 23 minutes, dallying too long on a knock-down from a long free-kick. And Akrofi’s second scoring chance, on a breakaway, was expertly foiled by Sam Beale.
On 30 minutes Borough were ahead. Nathan Collier - often an unsung hero in the anchor role - skipped one midfield challenge and found Gavin McCallum with a lovely ball out to the right. Gavin jinked past his man and returned the compliment with a perfect low delivery to the back post, where Collier rounded off his own move with a decisive finish.
Simon Johnson, returning to the Lane after his summer move, had been quiet in the early phases, but he was more influential in the second half, sending one header wide before giving way to a tactical substitution. Indeed, every few minutes Maidstone seemed to produce yet another striker off the bench – but without managing a sharp enough end product. Lewis Carey, a confident figure once again, saved his most spectacular save for a deflected Fran Collin shot, changing direction to clutch the spinning ball on the line. Elliott Romain provided fresh legs for the Sports, harassing defenders .
With just the one-goal lead, the game stayed in the balance, but the Priory Lane faithful roared their delight at the final whistle.
Borough: Carey; Stone, Simpemba, Watts, Beale; Collier, Evans; McCallum, Pinney, Lok (Romain 67), Haysman. Unused subs: Street, Baptista, Wilson, Bosma.
Referee: Anthony Serrano Attendance: 1,011
MoM: Nat Pinney