Alfie Rutherford fires hat-trick as feel good factor is back at Eastbourne Borough
The feel-good factor returned to Priory Lane on Saturday as a hat-trick from loanee Alfie Rutherford secured their first National League South win since September 1.
An FA Cup exit and league setbacks in recent weeks have been due to a combination of weak finishing, dubious defending and late collapses.
But on Saturday Borough got everything right with a performance that warmed the hearts of their fans frozen by an icy wind.
While Rutherford took his chances superbly, the home rearguard rarely put a foot put a foot wrong with central defenders Harry Ransom and Tom Gardiner outstanding. Sergio Torres was totally dominant in midfield until he hobbled off 10 minutes from time while Lloyd Dawes added more energy up front after replacing Yemi Odubade for the last half-hour.
Borough got off to a dream start with a goal after just four minutes, Rutherford bundling in a long corner from the left from Dean Cox.
Rutherford continued to threaten, turning his man twice inside the area before forcing keeper Laurie Walker to make a diving save.
Mark Smith was having a quiet time in the Borough goal but as half-time approached he did well to tip a thunderous drive from James Kaloczi over the bar while only a superb Kris |Campbell challenge denied Alex Osborn
Rutherford almost doubled the home advantage in first half stoppage time when he dispossessed Walker on the left of the goal area, but the keeper just got back in time to prevent the striker’s lob from entering an empty net.
Borough came out in the second half firing on all cylinders and within four minutes of the resumption Torres found Ryan Hall whose exquisite through ball was slotted past the advancing keeper by Rutherford.
Joe Howe cleared off the line to deny the non-stop Torres and Kane Wills was blocked by the keeper after being sent clear by Rutherford as Borough went for the jugular.
The introduction of Dawes proved just too much for Hemel who were struggling for damage limitation rather than pulling a goal back.
It was Dawes who started the move that led to the third goal in the 73rd minute. finding Torres on the right. A truly delightful chip/cross was nodded in at the far post by Rutherford.
A bicycle effort from Dawes sent Walker into another diving save as Borough maintained their effort and urgency until the final whistle.
Before the game it was announced that Tobi Adebayo-Rowling had signed for Borough and he repaid the club’s faith with a splendid performance culminating with a goal-line clearance at the death to ensure a clean sheet.
This win left Borough just a point from the play-off places. On Saturday they looked good enough to occupy one of them.
Borough: Smith, Adebayo, Gardiner, Ransom, Campbell, Cox, Torres (West 80), Wills, Hall, Rutherford, Odubade (Dawes 61). Unused subs: Martin, Pollard.
Hemel Hempstead: Walker, Cotter, Howe, Parkes, Doyley, Yakubu, Kaloczi (Ibie 68); Ward, Oliyide (Cawley 65), Orborn (Roberts 60), Murphy. Unused subs: Ward, Paulin,
Referee: Matthew Russell. Att: 481.
MoM: Sergio Torres – getting the verdict over hat-trick hero Rutherford illustrates his midfield dominance.Had a hand in two of the three goals.