Eastbourne Town claimed the early season bragging rights as summer signing Kenny Pogue bagged a brace to sink local rivals Hailsham Town.
Pogue wasted a host of chances before finding the net with a scrappy effort in the second half after Ross Sutton had opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Pogue sealed the win after rounding the keeper in the final minute.
On the back of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Dorking Wanderers, manager John Lambert described his side, who have been tipped to win County Division One this season, as a “bunch of big-time-charlies”, but will be pleased to have seen his side dominate for large periods.
“I am pleased but we made hard work of it,” he said.
“We are nowhere near where we should be at the moment but it’s a much-needed three points and it gets us off the mark.”
Had they opened the scoring in the first minute things might have been more comfortable for Town. Joe Dryer, caused problems on the left all evening but Sutton’s shot his cross was blocked.
Danny Ellis threatened with his delivery from set-pieces but Hailsham always posed a threat on the counter attack. Wingers Jack Divall and Jacob Adlam were effective from the wide areas and Divall, who joined from Eastbourne United in the summer, volleyed a deep cross from Casey Ham just wide, and he stung the palms of Greg Nessling in the Town goal soon after.
In a frantic few moments Town captain Steve Elliot might count himself lucky to have escaped a red card when he appeared to hold back Sam Divall when through on goal and Pogue responded at the other end, crashing against the bar with a volley from the edge of the area.
While Hailsham were largely considered as the underdogs prior to the game they held their own for large parts but they imploded just before the half-hour mark as Danny Williams brought down Ellis, who had danced into the area past a retreating Hailsham back line.
Sutton stepped up to calmly fire to into the bottom right hand corner.
Town were on top and it continued that way into the second half. Andy Henson flashed wide from an acute angle and Dryer continued to be a menace. He hit the bar with another effort from the edge of the 18-yard-box but Hailsham refused to give up and Jamie Salvidge was unlucky to see his header form a corner saved before the rebound was cleared off the line.
Town introduced Matt Maclean to try and re-assert themselves on the game and the former United man made an immediate impact, crossing for Pogue to scramble over the line.
Pogue then rounded Sheldon Levitt in the final minute and, while he dallied for what seemed an eternity, he composed himself to put the game beyond reach.
It was a hard one to take for Hailsham boss Andy Goodchild, who was encouraged by the performance against last year’s champions on Saturday.
“We’re disappointed, not because it’s a 3-0 loss but because of the performance,” he said.
“The way we lost was unacceptable.”
Eastbourne Town: Greg Nessling; Jack Turner, Andy Henson (Matt Maclean), Steve Elliot(c), Shaun Loft; Adam Davidson, Danny Ellis, Matt Darby (Peter Cooper), Ross Sutton (Joe Summerbell), Joe Dryer; Kenny Pogue. Subs Not Used: Sean Kelly, Dom Clarke
Hailsham Town: Sheldon Levitt; Jordan Dickinson, Craig Norman, Steve Early, Danny Williams (Simon Stevens); Paul Richardson Jamie Salvidge(c), Jack Divall, Jacob Adlam (Nathan Guy); Sam Divall, Casey Ham (Tom Goodey). Subs Not Used: Joey Pout, James Filzman
Man-of-the-match: Joe Dryer - Direct running and trickery caused problems all evening
REF: Jamie Wells (Worthing)