One of the most satisfying aspects of being be a footballer or a manager must be proving the critics and the doubters wrong.
While the season cannot be hailed a complete success as Borough narrowly missed out on a play-off spot, regulars at Priory Lane this year will tell you it’s a been one of progress.
Many tipped Tommy Widdrington’s side to be strugging near the foot of the table in a competitive Skrill South but the youthful side surprised and upset many of the more established teams along the way. And they did so, for the most part, playing an attractive, passing style of football that kept them within striking distance of the play-offs for the duration.
But just when they required a sprint finish, a tough April run-in, one that included five from seven fixtures away from the Lane, saw them lose five in a row and it was Dover, Ebbsfleet, Bromley and Sutton who made up the play-offs places with Eastleigh promoted as champions.
The boss was full of praise for his young chargers and hopes, with a few tweaks to the squad, they can power to a top five finish in 2015.
Widdrington also believes he has pin-pointed an area for improvement.
“Basically we need a nasty sod in the middle of the park who can get stuck in, make the right decisions and influence the play. I felt we were at times lacking that bit of experience and nous. We have it to a certain extent with Ian (Simpemba) at the back and with Elvis (Hammond) up top but sometimes when the games are tight the middle of the park is crucial.”
Despite piecing together a largely untried and untested squad Widdrington’s men began the campaign well. An unbeaten preseason saw them travel to Weston for the first game and a Frankie Raymond penalty earned them all three points. A win against Tonbridge, a draw at Ebbsfleet and a win at Hayes & Yeading had Borough topping the fledging league table. At Staines a cracking strike from Simon Johnson gave them an early lead but as Borough pushed for a second, Greek striker Louis Theophanous hit two late goals and inflicted Borough’s first loss of the season.
Cup progress was made in Farnborough thanks to goals from Darren Lok but 10 days later the FA Cup dream was over after a tricky draw took them to Ebbsfleet. A Ben May brace saw the hosts through.
A sticky patch followed in the league with heavy defeats at Chelmsford and Dover while there was more misery in the cup this time to Maidenhead as they knocked Borough from the FA Trophy.
Striker Darren Lok was a huge plus for the season. His strike sealed a 1-0 win against Boreham Wood and a resilient Borough were back on track.
Doubles over Weston and Staines ensured steady progress but just when they looked to have a comfortable run of games, defeats against Whitehawk, Tonbridge and Basingstoke scuppered a serious move into the play-off places. Brighton then knocked them out of the Senior Cup in Lancing.
Popular striker Jamie Taylor returned on loan from Sutton and scored four from five games and The Sports were back among the chasing pack throughout February and March.
But Taylor’s stay was brief, he was recalled to his parent club and helped Sutton cement their play-off spot. While Elvis Hammond proved a useful acquisistion, there was denying that Taylor’s lethal finishing was missed.
Widdrington reguarly likened the campaign to a horse race and unfortunatley for Borough it was a furlong too far. Five straight defeats saw the big money favourites power towards the finish post while Widdrington’s outsiders drifted back to the pack and settled for a respectable 10th.
“We were running with the contenders but we couldn’t last the distance,” said the boss. “With a fully fit 11 we were a macth for anyone but overall we just missed out.
“The lads deserve a big pat on the back this season.
“It was a learning curve for everyone and we will comeback stronger.”