Easstbourne Borough boss Tommy Widdrington said Stacy Long’s apology for missing a golden chance to seal victory against Sutton United was not necessary.
Long, on loan from Ebbsfleet and easing his way back to full fitness following a groin injury, ballooned a close range second half effort over the bar when the score was 1-0 to Borough.
Just seconds later, Sutton were down the other end and Jamie Slabber levelled Elvis Hammond’s excellent first half strike.
Widdrington said, “It was a crucial spell of the match and how often do you see that in football, when one team misses, the other team goes down the other end and scores.
“It was strange because we scored in the first half when we were not really on top and they scored in the second half when they weren’t really in the game.
“Stacy apologised for the miss but I said he had no need to. Every player has missed chances, that’s just football and we have to accept that.
“What pleased me though was that we showed how much we have improved from the team that went to Sutton and were battered 4-0.”
Borough’s line-up was attacking and they certainly began the match on the front foot.
With just two minutes on the clock Chris Shephard beat his man on the left and clipped an inviting cross into the box. Hammond timed his leap perfectly but directed his header over the bar from just four yards out.
Much was made of Jamie Taylor’s return to the Lane following his mid season loan move with Borough.
As ever, Taylor’s eye for a goal looked as sharp as always when he pinged a dipping volley from a tight angle that an alert Craig Ross did well to tip onto the bar.
Just two minutes on the clock and it could easily have been 1-1.
Long also went close on six minutes when he deceived retreating full back Alex Wynter with a couple of step overs before curling a right-footed effort over the bar from the edge of the box.
That man Taylor soon had another chance to open the scoring. On 17 minutes Lewis Tallack’s back pass was woefully short of Ross. Taylor nipped-in, swerved his way around the grounded Ross but the angle was too acute and his left-footed effort rolled harmlessly across an empty six-yard box.
Borough however were playing well and looked determined to avenge the 4-0 hiding they received in Sutton earlier in the season.
On 24 minutes Long found space on the left flank and played an accurate pass to Hammond. The powerful centre forward turned nicely and shrugged off two defenders before expertly finding the bottom corner of the net.
Borough were excellent value for their lead and should have extended it shortly after the interval.
Shephard wriggled his way free of the leftback Dale Binns and into the box. Shephard did well to pick out Long, whose first touch was excellent but he wildly lashed his left-footed effort over the bar from just five yards out.
It was a painful miss that was made all the worse just moments later.
A long punt up the field bounced over Ross. Tallack was on hand to bravely clear off the line ahead of the advancing Damien Scannell but from the resultant cross, Jamie Slabber bundled into the box and headed the ball into the net off the underside of the bar.
Darren Lok introduced and replaced Long who trudged off the pitch muttering to himself what might have been.
The match swang in Borough’s favour on 65 minutes due to an inury to Sutton’s halftime substitute Reece Weston. He was stretchered off with a dislocated knee and unfortunately for the visitors their manager Paul Doswell had used his full quota of subs as McCallum and Downer had already been used from the bench.
Borough drove forward with purpose. Johnson crossed from the right and Lok was inches away from making contact with his head. Lok did have the ball in the net on 76 minutes but it was chalked-off for offside following Shephard’s freekick.
Hammond had a fine game and was the pick of the centre forwards on display. He rightly received a good reception from the crowd as he was replaced by Tom Derry on 82 minutes.
Borough piled forward and tried everything they could to find that winning goal.
In an exciting finale Shephard had an angled effort well beaten away by Brown and Deaman saw his downward header from Frankie Raymond’s centre flash the wrong side of the post.
In the dying embers, Derry regularly found space on the right. His cross was desperately hacked away by the Sutton defence as Lok was set to pounce before Shephard arrowed a volley inches wide.
Despite their best efforts the goal didn’t arrive. Both sides gave their all in an excellent game but fourth placed Sutton left the happier side as Borough for all their fine efforts remain just outside the play-off spots.
Borough: Ross, Tallack (Deaman 57), Cole, Aldred, Simpemba, Watts, Long (Lok 65), Raymond, Hammond (Derry 82), Johnson, Shephard.
Subs not used: Levy, Rowe,
Sutton United: Brown, Wynter, Binns, Haysman (McCallum 55), Clough, Louis (Downer 59), Scanell, Dundas, Slabber, Taylor, Sawyer (Weston 45).
Subs not used: Sinclair, Lovelock
MOM: Chris Shephard
Referee: Mr M Pottage