Three games unbeaten: not exactly record-breaking, but Eastbourne Borough boss Lee Bradbury is quietly pleased with progress as his side prepares to welcome Slough Town on Non-League Day.
As the Sports returned from Welling on Tuesday night with another useful point, Bradbury was quick to praise his team’s battling spirit. “We were probably the better team. We certainly had the two best chances, with Charlie Walker and James Ferry both just off target late in the game. Another day, and they’d have gone in.
“We worked as a team, organised well, and defended very effectively against big strong opponents.”
The success story of the night perhaps, was the loan signing of Reading defender Roberto Nditi. Bradbury swooped for the 18-year-old – who has already been on the Royals’ first team bench – to cover a defensive crisis. With Manni Adebowale doubtful, and Kiran Khinda-John ruled out for seven days as a concussion precaution after a training injury, only Ian Gayle was available at centre-back.
In the event Adebowale did come through to play the whole game, but when Gayle suffered a muscle pull just six minutes in, substitute Nditi was pitched in to play alongside players he had scarcely met. And the youngster did not put a foot wrong all evening.
“Roberto was only cleared to play at the eleventh hour,” explained the boss. “Our club secretary Jan Field was an absolute star and she got the clearance through from the FA at five past six! I was delighted with the lad’s response – he played intelligently and he had courage, strength and pace.”
With the breathing space bought, Bradbury may be spoiled for choice as Slough Town arrive at the Lane tomorrow (Saturday). Gayle’s fitness will be assessed and Khinda-John should report back for duty. But if either man is not ready, Bradbury will surely not hesitate to throw a starting shirt to young Nditi.
“We’re steadily getting it right,” reflected Lee as he headed out from the late-evening Welling car park. “That’s a nice little sequence of three games unbeaten. We can take the good things from tonight, and look for another win against Slough.”
The Rebels lowered Borough’s colours twice last season at Priory Lane, knocking Jamie Howell’s side out of the FA Cup and also winning the league game 4-2. But the Sports did secure a 1-1 draw – and their National South status – in a thrilling encounter at Slough on the final day of the season.
With the international break giving Albion a free Saturday, Borough have announced a deal designed to welcome a bumper crowd on Saturday. All holders of a valid Premier League or EFL club season ticket will be admitted for just a fiver at the Priory Lane turnstiles.