Austin lands knockout blow on Boxing Day

Eastbourne Town skipper Ben Austin capped a man of the match performance by scoring the Boxing Day winner against Burgess Hill at the Saffrons.

The high-noon Sussex derby was always going to be a tense affair as Town were without a win in their last nine Ryman outings whilst the visitors hadn’t tasted defeat in their last nine league games.

Town showed huge commitment to beat the Hillians and record a first league victory since mid-October before a crowd of 206.

With top scorer, Danny Curd suspended along with Steve May and with Sonny Cobbs unavailable, boss Danny Bloor, shuffled his pack and included Oli Lockyer and Aaron Hopkinson in his starting line up.

The home support was also pleased to see Adam Davidson on the bench for the first time this season following a long-term knee problem.

Away keeper Tom Betts had a shaky start and on seven minutes he allowed a 45-yard John Lansdale free kick to deceive him in flight as the ball looped over his 6ft 3” frame and into the net.

Within thre minutes Burgess were level. A throw-in was launched into Town’s box, it was defended poorly and the ball found its way to the far post where Sam Tucknot took the chance with ease.

The visitors then nearly took the lead when a super low cross was blasted across Town’s box by Pat Harding but former Town player, Kai Bichard just failed to make contact and Luke Denton turned the ball away for a corner.

Following a sustained period of pressure Town took the lead before the break. Austin was well-placed to latch on to a deflection and remained composed to power the ball into the net.

The Hillians enjoyed long periods of possession in the second half but Town, with Steve Elliot and Austin superb in central defence held firm.

There were a couple of hopeful penalty appeals from Burgess Hill Town but that apart, it was the home side that had by far the best chances to add to their score. Hopkinson and substitutes Alex Howell and Ethan Strevett all had great opportunities but it was not to be.

Unlike the Sittingbourne game though, this time Town were able to run down the clock to secure three very important Christmas points from a gutsy performance led by their senior players.

Town: Pelling 7, Denton 7, Sutton 7 (Rogers 74), Elliott 8, Austin 8, Lockyer 7 (Strevett 72), Greenfield 7, Lansdale 7, Hopkinson 7, Geard 7 (Howell 60), Crabb 8.

MoM: Ben Austin.