By Ken McEwan
Eastbourne Borough’s hopes of a lucrative Emirates FA Cup run were shattered in front of their own supporters as slips at the back and a lack of a cutting edge up front allowed Sussex rivals Bognor Regis into the fourth qualifying round.
Just a month previously a solitary goal was sufficient to take the points at Nyewood Lane but on Saturday Borough clearly missed the midfield thrust of the injured Yemi Odubade and it was the Rocks who went home £7,500 the richer.
The Sports found themselves trailing in the 12th minute. Following a cross from the left by Dan Beck, Ian Simpemba appeared to lose his footing at the crucial moment, allowing Ollie Pearce to create space and squeeze the ball just inside the bottom right corner of the net.
Borough should have levelled in the 28th minute when Nat Pinney found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot came off the keeper and fell to Harley Willard who fired over the bar.
Minutes later Pinney was a whisker away from converting Willard’s low cross from the left and then Willard was just too high following a corner.
But despite the Borough efforts, much of the early stages seemed to lack the atmosphere of an FA Cup tie between Sussex rivals, most of the passion coming from the Bognor bench following boss Jack Pearce’s decision to leave his seat in the stand.
Sergio Torres did his best to inject some urgency into a Borough side who were making far too many mistakes and it was a Torres effort that produced a spectacular goal-line save from Dan Beck in the 38th minute.
Gavin McCallum was also showing much determination and as the half-time whistle approached he tested the keeper with a fierce 20-yard drive.
Borough started the second half desperately needing a goal, but instead they conceded one in the 49th minute. This time it was Gary Charman who was at fault, allowing Jimmy Muitt to gain possession and race away on the right, his low cross needing just a tap-in from Pearce to complete his brace.
Only the foot of Bailey Vose prevented Muitt from netting a third, but Borough, to their credit, kept plugging away and they was certainly more threat up front when new signing Lloyd Dawes from Worthing replaced the out-of-touch Pinney.
One felt that if Borough could get one goal, more would follow, but the Rocks, roared on by their vociferous supporters, were willing to fight for a place in the next round,
A fine Willard effort was well held under the bar by the keeper and a Jamie Taylor blockbuster was inches too high.
But Jamie Howell’s men never really produced the fast-flowing football that has seen them climb the National League South table, and once again the dream of taking on one of the game’s genuine giants, has gone for another year.
Sadly Borough supporters seem to have been saying that for too many years.
Borough: Vose 7, Khinda-John 6, McCallum 7, Wills 6, Simpemba, 6, Charman 5 (Hendon 58min – 5), Willard 6, Torres 7, Pinney 5 (Redwood 64min – 5), Taylor 7, Harris 6 (Dawes 50min -7). Unused subs: Worrall, Ransom, Drage, Pearson).
MoM: Gavin McCallum – never gave up the fight).
Ref: Lee Brennan. Att: 762.