On a chilly Tuesday night at the Lane, Eastbourne Borough eased into the last eight of the Sussex Senior Cup with a routine 2-0 victory over visitors AFC Uckfield Town.
The Southern Combination side did not trouble the scorers, and rarely looked likely to do so, but they showed admirable resistance in playing with ten men for well over an hour. Only 24 minutes were on the big red clock when Ryan Welch earned instant dismissal for a goal-line handball.
The Sports had already dominated, and come close through efforts from Mike West and Nicky Wheeler, when Welch suicidally tipped West’s goalbound effort over the bar. Charlie Walker despatched the penalty, and was promptly substituted with a tight hamstring – a precaution by manager Bloor and a chance for nimble young substitute Ben Overton.
Overton was not the only fringe player to impress. With all three regular centre-backs rested, Dan Blackmore and Steven James stepped up confidently, and James in particular caught the eye with an intelligent performance – and a handsome low drive from the edge of the box to put Borough two up just before the interval.
The visitors fielded a number of former Sports, including a very busy Bailo Camara and a resolute Richie Welch, who staunchly marshalled his re-shaped team to keep Borough at bay. Up front, Uckfield occasionally threatened through big striker Ellis Cormack, whose first-half header was thwarted by Scott Chalmers-Stevens.
By half-time, Borough’s passage into the quarter-finals was effectively booked, and they really only needed a trouble-free second half. The passing and movement was sublime, but the finishing was often shoddy. Ten or a dozen times, they missed the target from excellent scoring positions.
And even when Borough did shoot straight, Uckfield keeper Phil Hawkins was in defiant form – including one splendid save to deny James another goal, from a West corner. As Bloor super-charged his midfield with a debut for the eager and very mobile Jethro Hanson, the final half-hour was like a forwards versus defence training exercise.
Greg Luer, moving with constant invention, saw two efforts saved after lovely approach work, and in the final minutes Tobi Adebayo-Rowling – who together with Kristian Campbell had given an exhilarating wing-back master class – struck two golden chances off target.
But it really didn’t matter. The job was done, and Bloor’s New Borough remain unbeaten, on track and on the up.
Borough: Chalmers-Stevens; Adebayo-Rowling, Blackmore, James, Campbell; West, Wills, Ebuzoeme (Hanson 57) ; Luer, Walker (Overton 27), Wheeler (Gharbaoui 83). Unused subs: Hadler, Bray.
Referee: Conall Bartlett Att: 202
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