By Dean Allchin
Three goals in a ten minute second-half spell, including a brace for Nik Chamberlain, saw Eastbourne United AFC defeat Loxwood 3-1 at The Oval.
United were looking to build on an encouraging 1-1 draw at league leaders Horsham the previous weekend against a Loxwood side that United had failed to beat in their previous five meetings with the West Sussex outfit.
A strong wind and heavy rain made the going tough on both sides in the early stages with numerous players losing their footing.
Playing into the wind, it was United who had the first real chance of the game as Jamie Bunn headed a Liam Painter corner wide.
At the other end, Michael Wood showed some neat footwork to cut inside from the right wing but his effort from the edge of the area went harmlessly wide of the United goal.
United were forced into an early substitution as Aaron Filsell was replaced by Oscar Hall after suffering a cut to his face that required a visit to A&E for a handful of stitches.
Painter saw an enticing cross from the left evade everyone in the area while Dave Smart had to scramble a goalbound effort from Charlie Pitcher away for a corner.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Loxwood took the lead as Sam Beard swung a corner towards goal that resulted in an own goal.
Despite the weather, the goal did little to dampen United’s spirits as leading scorer Liam Baitup managed to get ahead of his marker, but he failed to hit the target with his header.
With the wind now at their backs, United looked to test Loxwood ‘keeper Sam Smith and did so as Chamberlain struck a 25 yard effort that the ‘keeper spilt, but was able to quickly gather.
Fifteen minutes into the second period, United found themselves level after Smart’s right sided corner was cleared off the line and after a brief scramble, the ball was forced into the back of the net by Chamberlain for his first goal since returning to the club last month.
A little over four minutes later, United took the lead as a Painter free kick found its way to Chamberlain who confidently lofted the ball into the far corner past the despairing dive of Smith.
From the restart, Loxwood looked to restore parity through Beard but his effort from the edge of the box was turned behind by James Broadbent.
The lead was extended in the 69th minute as Baitup was at his clinical best to slot an effort across Smith into the far corner of the net as United moved up one place to 10th in the Macron Store SCFL Premier Division