DARREN LOK came off the bench to secure Eastbourne Borough’s first win since December 14 at a windswept Priory Lane on Saturday.
In a breathtaking encounter, battling Bath City twice came from behind to level the scores only for Lok to do what he has done many times before, fire in a crucial late goal that has produced invaluable points for his side.
Also on the scoresheet were the two new boys, Stacy Long making his second league appearance, and debutant Elvis Hammond, who had the fans rocking with a quality finish.
As he reflected on a victory that sent his side leaping back towards the play-off places, boss Tommy Widdrington was quick to pay tribute to Bath as well as Borough.
“Considering the conditions, both teams deserve a huge amount of credit. The two sides looked as though they really wanted to win and although we scored three goals, their keeper still made some good saves as did ours,” he said.
“It was difficult to believe just how strong the wind was; Craig Ross made an aerial clearance out of his box and it came back into his box. I have not seen that before.”
Widdrington was also delighted with the showing of Long and Hammond. “I went for a smaller squad this season with the emphasis on quality, but even with four lads out, we still had a strong bench.
“With both these signings I have gone with experienced players who have performed at the same level or higher and the good thing is they are joining a group full of energy and football. They are such a good group to come into, sometimes I feel I could even play myself.”
Widdrington’s team might have gone ahead as early as the eighth minute.
Lewis Tallack, Simon Johnson and Charlie Gorman were all involved in a magnificent move which ended with Hammond chipping past keeper Jason Mellow, but he was inches off target.
The deadlock was broken in the 22nd minute when Long chased a clearance out of defence from Charlie Gorman and cleverly lobbed the advancing keeper.
Six minutes later City were level as a superb 20-yard strike from Andy Connolly left Ross with no chance.
With the gale-force wind behind them, Bath came out in the second half meaning business with Ross pulling off a great save to stop Andy Watkins’ angled drive from the right.
But it was Borough who regained the lead in the 54th minute when Hammond, signed the previous day from Farnborough, exquisitely chipped past Mellor following a deft through ball from Chris Shephard.
It should have been 3-1 when Shephard was denied by Mellor, one-on-one with the keeper
City, however, refused the lie down and in the 68th minute Watkins drove the ball in from the left and Chris Allen fired fiercely into the roof of the net.
Widdrington took some stick from fans in the stand as Hammond was replaced by Lok in the 62nd minute. But the manager had the last laugh when, with stoppage time approaching, Lok turned his man just inside the area and fired in the winner after fine work by the hard-working Simon Johnson on the right.
Both sides received a standing ovation at the end after what can only be described as an outstanding advertisement for non-league football.
Eastbourne: Ross, Tallack, Gorman, Cole, Simpemba, Watts, Long (Rowe 90), Raymond, Hammond (Lok 62), Johnson, Shephard (Akokhia 88).
Unused subs: Aldred, Deaman.
Bath: Mellor, Simpson (Brown 62), Bowman, Preece, Gallinagh, Adelsbury, Allen, Connolly, Low (Stearn 57), Watkins, Burnell (Pratt 57).
Unused subs: Keats, Wilson.
Referee: Mr S. Daly.
Mom: Simon Johnson (another energetic midfield performance. Made the winning goal and might have had a couple of himself with trademark long range efforts..