Eastbourne Borough held their own at Sutton on Saturday, gaining a valuable point – and regaining their confidence – in a competitive 1-1 draw.
In fact the Sports might have brought all three points home. Falling behind early on but equalising on the half hour, they did create further chances – but then so did Sutton, in an open and entertaining game.
Adam Watts and Dean Sinclair were missing through injury, but Ian Simpemba returned to centre-back after suspension and there was a debut start in midfield for Matt Parsons, who put in a really good shift and looks a useful all-purpose signing.
It didn’t start well. Borough could hardly get the ball in the opening phases and on 8 minutes a corner was half-cleared, recycled wide on the Sutton left and delivered high to the head of Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick – who might just have the longest name in football – and the lanky youngster nodded into the top corner.
A swirling, buffeting wind and a soaking wet pitch were not the conditions for purist football, but Borough kept their heads and did start to put passes together. Richard Pacquette’s excellent swivel and shot was blocked for a corner, from which Marvin Hamilton headed over, and the Sports were looking eager and quick.
Billy Medlock, the former Borough youngster and Town striker now trying his luck on loan at Sutton, had some lively moments and earned a dangerous free-kick which he struck too high, but Eastbourne were now containing the home side more comfortably.
And just after the half-hour Borough were back in it. Gavin McCallum, returning to one of his old clubs, took on the full-back on the outside and drilled a shot across the face of goal which was deflected in off Shaun Cooper for the equaliser.
If anything, Borough were now on top. Sutton keeper Tom Lovelock escaped with his life when he snatched the ball ahead of McCallum on the very edge of the penalty area, with Borough claiming handball but the officials unconvinced.
We entered stoppage time, when the usual Borough script would have Lok written down for a late, late winner – but this time the final page had got soggy in the rain. Carey’s massive kick found the lightning striker in behind the centre-backs, and with the keeper beaten he stabbed his shot goalwards but it went out for a corner as Borough had to be content with a well-earned point.