Eastbourne Borough bowed out of the Sussex Senior Cup at Lancing on Tuesday, but not without a fight in a contest with Albion that would actually have graced the final itself.
Albion’s development squad is far more than a youth side. It is a team of full-time young professionals; but they finished up clinging on for the narrowest of victories as Borough shook off the pale, sluggish Basingstoke defeat and rediscovered their touch.
The winning goal came out of the blue, startling everyone including the scorer. And equally surprising was the red card for Chris Shephard which reduced Borough to ten men before the interval.
Ironically, Shephard had been at his lightning best in an opening half-hour full of swift, inventive Borough moves.
Any Albion fans who had turned up expecting to see their cultured youngsters defeat the clumping part-timers must have been revising their opinions, as the Sports gave a master class in playing through from back to front.
On the half-hour Brennan Dickenson, wide out on the left touchline, swung in a cross which everyone thought was floating wide until it freakishly caught the wind and squeezed into the top corner over Craig Ross’s head. Even the scorer raised his hand in apology rather than raising his arm in triumph.
Seven minutes later came the second killer blow. Monakana was fouled by Johnson and brushed away Shephard’s attempt to help him to his feet. Words were exchanged, including what Widdrington described as some “industrial language”, and in a flash referee David Phillips produced a red card.
So for nearly an hour, the ten men battled to forge an equaliser which never came.
Borough: Ross; Tallack, Simpemba, Watts, Cole; Gorman, Raymond; Shephard, Johnson (sub Lok 78min), Long (sub Levy 66min) ; Derry (sub Akokhia 41min).
Subs not used: Rowe, Deaman.