Eastbourne and Oxford City show entertainment is name of game in National South this season
A cracking contest at Priory Lane on Saturday failed to separate the teams as Eastbourne Borough saw visitors Oxford City claw back a two-goal deficit to grab a 2-2 National South draw.
On the evidence so far, the Sports will not be playing out many goalless draws this season. Saturday’s encounter was fast-paced, end-to-end, full of penalty area action, and by no means free of errors.
Actually, the first three weeks of the National South season did not produce a single goalless draw. This level of semi-pro football is thriving – and managers, players and supporters are all enjoying the ride. Borough and City did settle for a point, but reluctantly. It might have finished 3-3 or 4-3, and even the four minutes of added time produced three more scoring chances.
The Sports had much the better of the first half and were two goals ahead in the first half hour. James Hammond saw his fierce free-kick scooped off the line, but Walker drilled in a fine angled shot for 1-0. Then seven minutes later Mitch Dickenson’s upfield whack found Walker racing clear and sublimely chipping keeper Ben Dudzinski to double the lead.
But Oxford came out after the break with guns blazing. Curtis Anderson denied Joe Iacofani with a splendid save, and home defenders were being forced deeper and deeper by the Hoops’ lively front-running. A sweeping move set up George Harmon, who drilled a wonderful strike across Anderson and into the far corner.
And just after the hour mark, City were level - in a chaotic goalmouth scene slightly resembling one of those rustic Bank Holiday traditions where the men of the village battle to shove a barrel of cider apples from one end of the street to the other. Gangling centre-back Charlie Rowan was credited with the final nudge for 2-2.
Rowan, though, was hugely fortunate to finish the game on the pitch. Already booked, he plunged into another caution-worthy foul, and referee Dean Skipper was reaching for the card – before reversing his decision and simply calling over Oxford skipper Reece Fleet for words of final warning. Ludicrously, the centre-back was then substituted within a minute rather than being sent off.
Never mind. It had been a swaying, pulsating afternoon of football, and a Desmond 2-2 was well earned by both sides.
Borough (4-2-3-1): Anderson; Beresford, James, Dickenson, Aidoo; Ferry, Hammond; Rollinson (Hutchinson 81), Whelpdale (Oyinsam 76), Luer (Gravata 69). Unused subs: Shaw, Towning.
Referee: Dean Skipper
Borough MoM: Charlie Walker