Eastborne Borough manager Tommy Widdrington said he was proud of his players’ performance as the suffered an agonising FA Cup exit against Dover Athletic at Priory Lane.
Borough were level at 1-1 with the National League highflyers and heading for a replay but a 92nd minute winner from the visitors saw Dover advance to the first round proper and bank the prize money of £12,500.
Dover took the lead after just two minutes when home keeper Lewis Carey palmed the ball into the path of Stefan Payne who poked home from close range.
Borough then dominated for large periods and their pace and passing helped create chances against their powerful opponents. Elliot Romian missed probably the best opportuniy of the first half while former Borough stopper Mitch Walker performed heroics in the Dover goal with a brilliant double save to deny Ian Simpemba and Nathan Collier.
Borough’s deserved leveller arrived on 77 minutes. Gavin McCallum, on as a second half substitute for Kane Haysman, picked up the ball on the right.
He cut inside on to his favoured left and a swerving effort nestled nicely into the bottom corner.
Borough continued to press as Dover picked up three bookings and conceded more than 20 fouls as they tried to thwart the Borough attacks.
Widdrington’s men had their chance for a wiunner on 89 minutes. Nat Pinney’s cross found Darren Lok with his back to goal. The striker turned and shot wide as an unmarked Romain screamed for a pass that would have teed him up for a shot at goal.
Dover’s winning goal arrived deep in injury-time and after the match even their manager admitted they probably didn’t deserve it.
But on 92 minutes a corner came into the box and Sean Raggett, one of the many giants in the Dover side, headed into the goal.
Widdrington said, “I have said to everyone of my players that I was proud of them. They gave everything and you have to take the positives and move forward.
“The problem with football is that it kicks you in the teeth more times than it pats you on the back.”
Borough: carey, Stones, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Beale, Evans, Collier, Haysman (McCallum), Pinney, Romain, Lok.