A late comeback from local rivals Burgess Hill Town stunned Eastbourne Town at Leylands Park on Saturday.
Hill scored twice in six minutes to peg Town back, mirroring their display at The Saffrons last season when they came from 2-0 behind to win 4-2.
The sides’ latest clash certainly lived up to its derby billing, spiced further by six ex-Burgess Hill players travelling with Town after summer moves.
Town started the brighter and were rewarded after 12 minutes when a Matthew Geard in-swinging free-kick was met by captain Nick Fogden who nodded back to centre-half Dean Brooks to head into an empty net.
Richard Greenfield doubled Town’s lead four minutes later when he cut in from the wing and held off the Hill challenges to then square it to top-scorer Sam Crabb who finished from a tight angle.
Town always looked dangerous from set-pieces and moments before their second, had a Brooks header cleared off the line.
Hill struck back shortly before half-time, however, when a Fred Foreman free-kick from the left skimmed the head of Lloyd Cotton and went in via Kieron Thorp’s upright.
After the break, on 52 minutes, Town quickly regained their two-goal advantage when the tireless Nathan Crabb used his pace on the right to turn provider for Greenfield whose first time finish made it 3-1.
Town were inches away from making it 4-1 five minutes later, which would have arguably killed the game off, only for a stunning point-blank save by Hill ‘keeper Joel Harding from a Sonny Cobbs header.
This seemed to spur on the home side who brought it back to 3-2 when substitute and left-midfielder Quentin Conteh’s cross was glanced in by a well-timed Jonno Melia header in the 73rd minute.
Then six minutes later, Burgess Hill scraped an equaliser amid a goalmouth scramble. Tom Bold’s low cross was touched in by Melia for his brace in the 79th minute.
This meant for an exciting finish but neither side were able to find a winner in the final ten minutes.
Boss Danny Bloor said, “We showed a lot of character in the first half but I felt we should have had the game wrapped up then.”
He added, “A point away from home is obviously satisfactory.”
Eastbourne Town: Thorp 6, Davidson 6, Cobbs 6, Brooks 7, Fogden 7, Elliot 6, Kirkwood 6, Crabb S. 7 (Freeman 66), Greenfield 7 (Dixon-Baker 76), Crabb N. 7, Geard 6
Subs not used: Christie, Percival, Simmonds
Bookings: Fogden, Kirkwood
Referee: Ashley Slaughter
MoM: Dean Brooks – could have had a hat-trick of first-half headers