Eastbourne Borough manager Tommy Widdrington said he will be able to relax and enjoy their last game of the season against former club Salisbury on Saturday.
Widdrington’s side were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline at play-off chasing Basingstoke but with other results going their way, Boro’ retained their Blue Square South status.
It is mission accomplished for Widdrington and his men who were staring relegation in the eye.
His first victory, after replacing Garry Wilson, arrived in early March at Truro and a run of three wins on the bounce, including a superb win against champions Woking, went a long way to achieving their target.
Widdrington said, “It has been a very difficult time but full credit to the players. They have got the job done and you can’t ask for more than that.
“I believe each one of them has tried their best and given their all for the cause. When we took over our remit was to stay in this division and we have achieved that with one game to spare.”
Widdrington’s men were determined to get another three points on the board at Basingstoke and despite the unflattering scoreline competed well for long periods.
They were caught out on 11 minutes when Delano Sam-Yorke opened the scoring for the home side.
They then conceded two quick goals on 58 and 59 minutes through Wes Daley and Shaun McAuley respectively. Boro’ battled gamely but struggled to carve out clear cut chances. Substitute Ellis Remy came the closest to scoring but was unable to capitalise on two half-chances following his second half introduction.
The 3-0 victory lifted Basingstoke into sixth place with Boro’ dropping down two places to 17th. Defeats for Havant and Waterlooville and Hampton Richmond, coupled with a draw for Maidenhead at Dover ensured Boro’s safety.
“It’s a shame we could not achieve it with our own performance but other results went our way.”
With Alex Lacey being recalled to the Luton Town squad, Widdrington opted for a 3-5-2 formation in an attempt to thwart the attacking threat of Basingstoke.
Widdrington added, “Alex was a big loss to us. I felt without him we did not have the personnel to deal with their attack, so we tried something different.
“Alex is a young lad but he made a great impression on us during his time here. I’ll be doing all I can to get him back down here next season but if we cannot, I sincerely hope he goes on to fulfil his potential.”
Widdrington said he has spoken to a number of his squad about next season but is yet to have a discussion with chairman Len Smith about finances for next season.
“I hope to have a better idea by our presentation evening on May 4. By then I will have spoken to all the players face to face. I will speak to club and see what is available and then build our squad for next season.”