Daubeney to go back to the drawing board

Eastbourne United v Broadbridge Heath at The Oval. County League Division Two fixture. January 26th 2013.
Eastbourne United v Broadbridge Heath at The Oval. County League Division Two fixture. January 26th 2013.

It was a season so full of promise for Eastbourne United but one that, in the end, culminated in bitter disappointment.

After staging a strong claim for promotion last year but falling just short, the club were hot favourites to be challenging at the top of the pack once again.

And that they did, flying high at the peak of the division for weeks on end, scoring goals for fun and enjoying their football - the Oval was the place to be if you wanted to be entertained.

However, as had been the case just twelve months before, their promotion chase crumbled and they suffered last-day heartbreak, missing out on the top three by just one place and two points.

It had looked so encouraging at the start; United kicked off their campaign with three straight victories, scoring 15 goals and conceding just three.

That emphatic style continued for much of the season, largely thanks to Liam Baitup.

The striker netted 39 times across all competitions, making him not only the Division Two top scorer, but the most prolific marksman in the entire County League. Barely a match went by when Baitup didn’t bag a brace,

However, for all their free-scoring abilities - contributions of 14 and 13 from Jack Divall and Peter Cooper respectively ensured United notched the most goals in the division - they struggled to shut up shop at the back, keeping just five clean sheets.

While most of the time, conceding a hanfdul of goals didn’t matter as they always managed to out-score their opponents, a reflection on the season will see a leaky defence to blame for the loss of points that eventually proved to be crucial as Little Common snatched the sought-after third spot on the final day of the season.

However, for all the disappointment of another frustrating domestic campaign, United will at least take some memorable cup moments from this season - none more so than their historic 2-1 victory over Lewes.

United came up against the Ryman Premier League side in the Sussex Senior Cup and produced an incredible 2-1 victory in what boss Paul Daubeney lauded as the best win of his playing or managerial career.

Reflecting on the season as a whole, Daubeney said, “It was an improvement on last season, when we finished sixth.

“Realistically, our mindset was on promotion but unfortunately, we lost our way a bit after Christmas when we had quite a few players missing.

“To just miss out on promotion again was frustrating. It was right there up until three weeks before the end when everyone started closing in on us.

“I think it would have been a worse feeling having won on the final day and then not gone up.

“The two stand-out games of the season has to be Lewes away, whch was a fantastic feeling, and the recent Littlehampton win in tough conditions.

“Now, we’ll go back to the drawing board and try again next year.”