By Andrew Raeburn
at priory Lane
A DEFENSIVE horror show in the first 20 minutes gifted Chelmsford City the points at Priory Lane on Monday as Eastbourne Borough endured a miserable Bank Holiday weekend.
Just 48 hours after being beaten 3-0 at Welling United on Saturday, Garry Wilson’s side were behind by the same score again after barely a quarter of the game against Chelmsford.
But while the Clarets were incisive and impressive going forward, they were aided by Borough’s use of the self-destruct button. First, the defence was outpaced by Ricky Modeste, who finished coolly for the opener, Sam Cole then headed an own goal after a farcical lack of communication with goalkeeper Rikki Banks and the lead was extended when Kenny Clark rose unchallenged to nod home from a corner.
Matt Crabb replied almost instantly but it failed to spark any serious momentum and Darren Baker’s late sending off compounded Borough’s misery.
In mitigation, Borough were missing seven first team players, Gary Elphick joining the queue for the treatment table. Sonny Cobbs returned but had to play in an unfamiliar centre-back role, while Cole continued to fill in at left-back.
Chelmsford, among the pre-season promotion candidates, had begun the season inconsistently but they hit their straps from the off. With just seven minutes on the clock, Modeste nipped past Baker and slotted past the exposed Banks.
Modeste was lively on the left flank but the cross which led to Chelmsford’s two minutes later had looked harmless enough – until a mix-up led to Cole stooping to head into an empty net as Banks came out behind him to claim the ball. On 18 minutes, Banks made a fine stop, tipping Modeste’s wide-angled shot over the bar, but from the resulting corner, Borough switched off and allowed the Clark to guide the ball unchallenged into the far corner.
An immediately reply was required to stem the flow of Chelmsford attacks and it duly came. Steve Brinkhurst’s cross was flicked down by Carl Rook into the path of Crabb, who smashed the ball home from 10 yards. But it wasn’t the cue for a spell of Borough dominance – a flat-looking midfield conceded possession too regularly – and Chelmsford came close to adding to their lead when Dave Rainford’s header came back off the bar.
Borough tightened up after the break but struggled to carve out opportunities, in spite of the introduction of Ethan Strevett and reserve striker Bailo Camara.
Chelmsford brought on Joe Benjamin, whose last key contribution at Priory Lane had been winning the late penalty against Oxford which retained Borough’s Blue Square Premier status in 2009-10.
This time he was involved in Baker’s dismissal as he went down under little contact and referee Carl Fitch showed the full-back a second yellow card.
BOROUGH: Banks 6; Baker 6, Rowe 6, Cobbs 7, Cole 7; Brinkhurst 6, Smart 5, Johnson 5 (sub Strevett 75 mins), Crabb 7*, Rook 6, Watson 6 (sub Camara 75 mins). Subs not used: Pulman, Medlock, Norris.
CHELMSFORD: Searle, Nunn, Palmer, Haines, Clark, Rainford, Whitely (sub Morgan 62 mins), Brown, Akurang (sub Ibe 81 mins), Cornhill, Modeste (sub Benjamin 76 mins). MoM: Matt Crabb (determined display, good finish). Referee: Mr. C. Fitch (Ipswich) 5. Att: 783