Back from the Brink

Eastbourne Borough v Havant and Waterlooville'03/09/11
Eastbourne Borough v Havant and Waterlooville'03/09/11

By Ken McEwan

at priory Lane

WILL this season see Steve Brinkhurst reach his true potential?

So often the flying right winger flatters to deceive, but on Saturday his two goals sent a never-say-die Havant & Waterlooville side home pointless from Priory Lane.

Brinkhurst and Matt Crabb were outstanding on both wings, but it was Brinkhurst’s stunning 25-yarder that broke the deadlock four minutes into the second half and paved the way for a much-needed win .

“This is what we are expecting of Steve Brinkhurst this season,” said head coach Nick Greenwood after the game. “I thought our wide men were exceptional today.”

Greenwood also mentioned another major factor that produced an overall solid defensive display after miserable back-to-back defeats.

“Gary Elphick was the one change from last week,” he said. “It’s true Gary made the mistake for their goal but over the 90 minutes I thought he was superb.”

“We were much stronger down the spine of the team,” added boss Garry Wilson. “The performance was much better than of late and there was more energy about us..

“It was not perfect, but it was hard-working and we saw two great goals. I thought Steve (Brinkhurst) was a handful all game.”

There was no shortage of effort from either side in a goalless first half, with the speed and control of Brinkhurst and Crabb a constant threat. Lyall Beazley, making his senior debut for the visitors, did well to beat away an angled Sam Cole effort and Ben Watson went close when he headed a Crabb cross inches over.

The main talking point during the interval was just how Beazley had been allowed to remain on the field.

True he had been fouled by Carl Rook, but with the ball safely in his arms, he blatantly pushed the Borough striker to the ground with one hand, an offence which clearly warrants a red card.

Instead, it was the Borough fans who saw red as the keeper calmly took the free-kick awarded for the Rook foul.

All the goals came in an explosive opening quarter of an hour of the second half.

Brinkhurst’s ferocious drive into the top corner of the net from 25 yards broke the deadlock in the 48th minute, just seconds after Borough had appealed in vain for a penalty when Watson had been sent sprawling in the area.

But the lead lasted just seven minutes as Wes Fogden raced on to a poor back pass from Elphick and was upended by keeper Rikki Banks.

Sammy Igoe calmly slotted home the penalty and Banks, like his opposite number was also fortunate to be shown a yellow card.

If the laws of football had been correctly enforced, neither side would have completed the game with their first-choice keeper.

Borough, however, surged back on to the attack following the equaliser and after Matt Crabb’s fierce drive had been beaten away by Beazley, Brinkhurst blasted in the rebound.

There were some uneasy moments for the home defence as the Hawks went all out to salvage a point and Conor Okus should have levelled when he shot straight at Banks from just six yards out.

But the Elphick-inspired rearguard held out and as the teams left the field, home supporters echoed one wish – that the big defender now remains fit as Borough strive to keep in touch with Blue Square Bet South’s pace-setting pack.

A bigger test will come at Woking on Saturday.