In the first of six pre-season friendlies, Eastbourne Borough came away with a 3-0 win from a baking hot Hampshire on Saturday.
Two goals from last season’s hotshot Darren Lok, and a third from major new signing Ian Simpemba, were fair reward for Borough’s dominance in a game which Tommy Widdrington called “nicely competitive”.
“I didn’t want a tippy-tap game of after you Cecil,” observed the Borough manager. “I needed to see if people could turn the skills and sharpness of the training field into a match situation.
“We dominated possession and for a good hour we had real fluency. We kept the ball with purpose . It was good to win comfortably, and it boosts the confidence. You may say the score is secondary, but if the result doesn’t matter, why do people always keep the score?”
The core of last season’s team was on show, and substitutions in the second half allowed Widdrington a first chance to assess some players in a match situation.
Three 16-year-olds from the new Borough Academy caught the manager’s eye.
“I was impressed with the younger lads - Dan Hutchens in goal, Ryan Worrall at centre-back and Tom Underwood up front. They are certainly ones to watch. And I got a little bit nearer to making my mind up about some of the triallists who are training with us.”
But there is a long - and possibly hot and dusty - road ahead to August 17th.
“We go to Hastings on Tuesday night (tonight) for a slightly different game.
“There is a local angle and players on both sides will be out to impress. It’s only our second game so we are still building,” said Tommy, “but the spirit and attitude in the squad are first class, and there’s a great feeling around the club at the moment.”