Elphick saves boro blushes

Eastbourne Borough v Farnborough August 13th 2011
Eastbourne Borough v Farnborough August 13th 2011

A 90th MINUTE equaliser, an injury-time goal-line clearance and a mass brawl after the final whistle – Airbourne may have been buzzing overhead, but all the drama was on the ground at Priory Lane on Saturday.

First and foremost, Borough will consider themselves fortunate to have emerged with a point in what was the first ever league meeting between the two sides.

Gary’s Elphick’s 90th minute leveller sent a wave of relief around Priory Lane after a second half in which Gary Havelock’s young Farnborough side (average age 20) had very much dominated.

And it still needed an amazing goal-line clearance from Sonny Cobbs in injury-time to hold on to that precious point.

What happened immediately after the final whistle was sheer mid-summer madness. A personal confrontation between Borough sub Eddie Hutchinson and Farnborough’s Philip Oppiah somehow erupted into mass warfare with players of both sides going hell for leather against each other.

Injured Borough skipper Ben Austin put his own injury problems at risk as he joined the peace-makers to bring the brawl to a swift conclusion when Hutchinson and Oppiah were both shown red cards, resulting in immediate three-match suspensions.

Both manager Garry Wilson and assistant Nick Greenwood were quick to express their disappointment at their team’s second half showing after a first period in which the hosts had created more scoring chances.

“We had three or four scoring opportunities in the first half, but ran out of ideas in the second,” admitted Greenwood. “I felt we were outmuscled today, but you have to remember it’s very much a work in progress here at the moment.”

Added Wilson, “The second half was not good enough and we have to do better. I have told the players that.

But there is a lot more to come and I still believe we will be one of the better sides in the division and could well be a top side.”

Borough fell behind in the 24th minute when Tommy Murphy provided the finishing touch at the far post after a classy move on the left culminated in a cross from Tony Garrod.

Minutes later Tokarczyk pulled off the save of the day to prevent Pattison heading into his own net following a Matt Crabb free-kick.

Steve Brinkhurst wasted a great chance with a weak finish when the offside flag stayed down to allow him a clear path to goal.

But after their first half promise, it was Farnborough who had the lion’s share of the second half play, although Ben Watson made an immediate impact when he came on in the 66th minute and was inches wide of the far post following a long ball from Crabb.

As the final whistle approached, a Farnborough victory seemed inevitable when, in the 90th minute, Elphick squeezed home a low cross from sub Ethan Strevett from seven yards.

Even then the game wasn’t safe as the visitors surged back onto the attack and Cobbs did amazingly well to hook the ball off the goal-line to deny Pattison a glory goal.

On a day of red faces and red cards, the Red Arrows were very much an after-thought.