Academy boys see off Fulham in thriller

Academy boss Jay Lovett
Academy boss Jay Lovett

Eastbourne Borough’s Academy side pulled off the result of the season so far on Wednesday, coming from behind to claim a thrilling 4-3 victory over Premiership Fulham

The Conference Challenge Cup, open not only to Conference clubs but also to any Football League or Premiership clubs who fancy it, began the season with 108 entrants, and remarkably Jay Lovett’s exciting young team are now in the last four.

Having disposed of Gillingham in the previous round, they showed scant regard for Fulham’s status.

Borough took a 20th minute lead, Max Taylor drilling in an angled shot, but within seconds a scrambled Fulham equaliser had restored parity.

Taylor and first-teamer Elliott Levy battled to bring width to Borough’s game but the tight dimensions of the Sports Park 3G pitch did them no favours, and the key battle zone was the midfield, where Borough looked quick and combative.

But with two opportunist goals, one on either side of half-time, Fulham looked to have taken control of the tie, and the sizeable crowd of home supporters were resigning themselves to honourable defeat against a talented and quite streetwise Premiership outfit.

Lovett’s boys had other ideas.

They powered forward and were back in the contest on 65 minutes when skipper Ryan Worrall drove in a direct free kick.

And ten minutes later Worrall – an inspiration throughout – hammered Borough level from Wayne Giles’s incisive through ball.

Each goal had given the Sports lads new belief, and now they were unstoppable. With six minutes remaining, Giles was played into the box by Dean Bown and coolly slotted the winner.

A semi-final against Southampton or Colchester now awaits, but manager Lovett knows his youngsters will fear nobody. “It was a really impressive team performance from front to back.

“They played for each other, and (coach) Matt Bubb and I are delighted with them.”

Borough: Hutchins, Kavanagh, Welch, Worrall, Mepsted, Strong, Levy, Clarke, Adebayo-Rowling, Bown, Taylor. Subs: Hilfiker, Rogers, Clifford, Giles, Read, Sakawa, Simpson.