By Derren Howard
at the oval
It was definitely a case of good cop bad cop at the Oval on Saturday.
While mild-mannered boss Paul Daubeney was clearly disappointed with his side’s draw with Midhurst and Easebourne, it was left to his number two Paul Sargent to read the riot act to the below par Eastbourne United players on the opening day of the season.
After the match Daubeney was forced to close the dressing room windows to muffle the sound of Sargent’s voice booming around the Oval as the United boss tried to explain what went wrong.
“The players thought they would just turn-up and roll them (Midhurst and Easebourne) over but that never happens in football no matter which league you are in.
“The first game of the season can produce some funny performances but no excuses, they were there for the taking but we did not perform.
“I’m very disappointed because we were playing some great stuff in pre-season.”
The first half offered very little in the way of quality and the planes flying overhead for the Airbourne show offered a welcome distraction to the football on display.
But surprisingly and in stark contrast to the general play in the first half both goals were finishes of the highest quality
First up Callum Holles, one of the few players to emerge from the game with credit, opened the scoring on 20 minutes.
The young midfielder latched on to a poor clearance from Midhurst keeper Ian Knight, advanced into the box unchallenged and finished expertly into the bottom corner.
Missing the skills of Lee Jules, Sean Lee, Ben Hughes and Tony Russell, United were not at full strength and began to wobble. Martin May fired over the bar from close range before burly striker Steve Boston produced an incredible volley from a tight angle which, with no danger of exaggeration, had shades of Marco Van Basten’s classic strike against Russia in Euro 88.
There were definite signs of improvement from United after the break.
Former Eastbourne Town striker Evan Archibald took on three defenders and steered an effort just wide before the hardworking Marcus Whiteman whipped in a dangerous cross which Gawaine Archibald bundled over the bar from five yards.
Jack Fry made a promising home debut but he was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he clattered into Marcus Williams in the box but referee Peter Lindsey waved play-on.
As the clocked ticked down Archibald headed into the side netting from a Holles cross and substitute Caolan O’Reilly missed an absolute sitter to claim the winner as he skied his effort from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
Daubeney added, “It was a great chance at the end and usually they would fly into the net.
“But it was the overall performance that bothered me more, not that missed chance.”
UNITED: Collier 6, Starnes 6, Smart 6, Fry 7, Putland 7, Stracey 6 (O’Reilly), Bateman 6 (G Archibald), Holles 7, Davey 6 (Newby), Archibald 6, Whiteman 7. MoM: Callum Holles tidy in midfield and a threat going forward. Referee: Peter Lindsey Att: 47.