Honours were even in Borough’s final friendly as they shared a 1-1 draw with Lewes that will send both clubs into the new season in good heart.
As one spectator wryly observed, “Lewes and Borough don’t play friendlies” – and this game did have a nicely competitive edge that helped rather than hindered the two managers, as they firm up their final plans for the new season.
“I saw different things from the other friendlies,” observed Tommy Widdrington afterwards.
“There was a game mentality and it obviously meant something to the lads.
“We need that now, ahead of next week’s league game.”
Garry Wilson, returning for the first time as a manager to the scene of his previous triumphs, included eight former Sports players in his squad, while Tommy Widdrington gave two or three players the chance to earn a late deal before next week’s league openers.
Perhaps most intriguing was former favourite Elliott Charles, who formed a formidable pairing with Richard Pacquette.
The big striker, who spent last season with Dover, would be unavailable for Borough’s first three league games, but he remains an option.
“I’m a big fan of Elliott,” said Tommy afterwards, “and I want to explore that one further.”
Former Barnet midfielder Dean Sinclair had a busy, assertive game in the anchor role which Widdrington has not yet finalised.
There were briefer appearances for striker James Walker and for Stacy Long, and a cultured display at right back by former Crystal Palace youngster Kiran Tinder-John. With none of those players yet committed to paper, it could be a busy week for the Borough boss.
Borough had more of the ball and the better chances, taking a first-half lead through Richard Pacquette, snapping up a 28th minute chance after Rikki Banks had pushed out a Gavin McCallum shot.
The Sports controlled much of the first half, with Simon Johnson outstanding on the right, and indeed Pacquette might have had a first half hat-trick, narrowly missing with a spectacular volley and then seeing a header cleared off the line.
After the break, Banks pulled off two magnificent full-stretch saves from McCallum and Johnson, and then as the game opened up Lewes fashioned an excellent equaliser, Henry Muggeridge keeping his head to control a left-wing cross and find the net from 15 yards.
There was still time for some feisty late action, and Matt Aldred’s header struck the crossbar after superb interplay between Long and Darren Lok. But the performance – and the learning curve for both manager and team – were always more important than the result.
Eastbourne Borough: Carey; Tinder-John, Simpemba, Watts, Beale; Johnson, Sinclair, Aldred, McCallum; Charles, Pacquette. Subs: Lok, Long, Walker, Hamilton, Lovett.
Lewes: Banks; Malins, Elphick, Rowe, Brinkhurst; Muggeridge, Smith, Branford, Wheeler; Dodd, Blewden. Subs: Napper, Romain, Treleaven, Lawson, Cole, Stinson.
Referee: Carl Brook