Eastbourne Borough return to league matters after FA Cup disappointment
Licking their wounds, and counting the cost. Eastbourne Borough turn back to league business tomorrow (Saturday) after tumbling out of the FA Cup against Horsham in midweek.
The Sports were narrowly – and slightly surprisingly – defeated 1-0 by their West Sussex rivals in Tuesday night’s replay, after the clubs had battled out a 2-2 draw last Saturday. It was a blow to both pride and finances.
No sensible semi-professional club should actually budget for an FA Cup run, and Borough run as tight a ship as any club at their level.
Manager Danny Bloor has already put together this season’s fine, competitive squad on a modest budget. But the Cup prize money represents a huge boost.
The Sports netted £5,250 from victory over Hanwell Town in the previous round – but progress to the next round would have earned a further £8,000.
Add to that the missed chance of a four-figure crowd against National League Woking, with a realistic chance of matching last season’s run to the first round proper – and it is not hard to hear a little groan from inside the Priory Lane boardroom.
But in football as in life, it’s generally more fruitful to look forward and not back. And so the Sports take the road on Saturday to Maidstone United, a full-time club desperate for promotion – with the only remaining unbeaten record in National League South.
“We are hugely disappointed with Tuesday night, of course,” said Bloor. “We gifted them a goal early, and pretty much camped around them.
"We huffed and puffed but couldn’t get the breakthrough, and simply now we have to put that behind us.
“But it is all about how we respond. No doom and gloom – it is just one game of football. Remember we were unbeaten throughout September.
"We congratulate Horsham, we will dust ourselves down, and prepare minds and bodies for the Maidstone game.”
Ironically the Stones also slipped out of the FA Cup last weekend, taken apart on their own patch by league leaders Dartford.
Borough teams under Bloor have never been cowed by status or reputations, and they will travel without fear to the Gallagher Stadium – where the club’s under-23 side actually pulled off an eye-catching 3-2 victory last Saturday, coming back from two goals down.
Manager Bloor’s senior side would no doubt settle for that.