An 87th minute strike from Gianluca Del-Gaudio snatched all three points for Eastbourne United in a hard-fought match against Sussex County League Division Two rivals Westfield, on Tuesday night.
Division Two top goalscorer Liam Baitup bagged himself another brace, but it was the energetic Del-Gaudio who caught United manager, Paul Daubeney’s eye, with a late winner to keep United’s push for promotion on course.
Daubeney said, “For me he was definitely the man of the match. Gianluca was at the forefront of everything we did and worked hard, chasing down all night. It was a superb performance.”
United started brightly and went close through strikers, Baitup and Pete Cooper, but it was the visitors who scored the games opening goal.
United ‘keeper Adam Sargent failed to clear a long ball down the middle, allowing Westfield forward Steve Ringwood to capitalise and roll the ball into the unguarded net.
Baitup was then denied by the fingertips of Carl Morris in the Westfield goal, before he thundered the ball home moments later to grab an equaliser. A resurgent Westfield regained the lead shortly after half-time when Mike Booth headed in a fine cross, before Baitup again levelled the scores.
Captain Pete Featherstone slalomed through the Westfield midfield, laying the ball to Del-Gaudio, whose cross was finished by the dangerous Baitup.
Cooper and Baitup were both denied late on, before Del-Gaudio reacted quickest from a corner, turning the ball home, stealing all three points for United.
“We knew we were going to be in for a tough game and Westfield came with a plan to try and stop us from playing.
“We tried to combat that and lifted the tempo. It was a definite improvement from Saturday’s second half, and the last 25 minutes were an onslaught. It was just a matter of time before we scored the winner.”
The win is United’s fourth in their last five league games and keeps them third in the table.
Daubeney’s men travel to Steyning Town on Saturday.