Eastbourne Borough’s final game of the season ended with mixed emotions as Matthew Ball’s controversial stoppage time penalty earned Farnborough draw in an thrilling match at PaddyPower Park (writes Stephen Kent)
The result meant that Tommy Widdrington and his Priory Lane squad would finish the Skrill Conference South season in 10th place on 58 points, their best standing since relegated back to the league in 2011.
Farnborough who were already clear of the relegation zone, played a free-flowing style of football similar to Eastbourne and they stunned the visitors after only a minute played when defender Josh Huggins headed in unmarked from Matthew Ball’s finely delivered corner.
Shortly afterwards the Sports tested Yellows keeper Ross Fitzsimons with efforts of their own, Frankie Raymond ‘s low shot was saved at the near post and Tom Derry scuffed a shot just over the crossbar from outside the box.
Eastbourne didn’t have to wait too long for their equaliser as Ollie Rowe, filling in for the suspended Ian Simpema as captain, struck a wonderful ball from 35-yards out which flew past the defence and into the right corner of the net. A definite contender for goal of the season.
Moments later Derry had a great chance to give his side the lead, beating the offside trap and was clear towards goal but Fitzsimons sprinted quickly off his line to block him. Farnborough were then in disbelief as the Sports were awarded a penalty after Ollie Treacher’s high foot brought down Derry just inside the 18-yard line.
Referee Paul Kelly thought hard and long about the decision and eventually awarded the spot kick which Raymond slotted into the bottom-right corner to give his side the lead for the first time.
In what was already a thrilling first-half between the sides, Farnborough levelled six minutes later through a stunning solo effort from Jonathan James ‘JJ’ Hooper, who sprinted down the right wing and fired a low strike past Craig Ross at his near post.
Derry was involved again when on the 63rd minute, his corner was cleared back to him and he then crossed it back towards goal and academy star Ryan Warrall rose superbly above the crowd to head it past Fitzsimons and put Eastbourne back in the lead once more.
Three minutes later Farnborough had a great chance to equalise through Page who twisted and turned and got a shot off in the box but Ross reacted superbly to deny him.
The home side continued to press but were reduced to half-chances as Charlie Gorman, Matt Aldred and the rest of the side defended extremely well, even when the heavens opened up and it started to rain heavily in Hampshire.
Everyone in the ground thought that Eastbourne had finished the season with a well-deserved away win but there would be one more twist in this already dramatic match, four minutes into added time.
Simon Johnson was adjudged by Kelly to have handled the ball in the area and for the second time in the game he awarded a controversial penalty which Ball took with confidence.
Farnborough FC: Fitzsimons, Huggins, Treacher (Berry 54’), Bosch, Inns © (French 85’), Doyle, Lee (Fearn 64’), Ball, Page, Hooper, Colmer. Unused subs: Bowers, Guaratto,
Eastbourne Borough FC: Ross, Stinson (Tallack 45’), Gorman, Aldred, Rowe ©, Watts, Derry (Lok 64’), Raymond, Hammond, Johnson, Worrall (Levy 75’). Unused subs: Welch, Brown.