REFEREES have never been Tommy Widdrington’s best friends and his relationship with officialdom was certainly not improved when Eastbourrne Borough were denied what appeared to be a stonewall penalty four minutes from the end of Saturday’s goalless draw against Concord Rangers.
Looks of expectancy turned to glares of horror as ref Richard Hulme waved away screams for a spot kick after sub Elliott Levy was hauled down in the area by Concord full-back De Reece Vanderhyde.
Widdrington afterwards admitted to being ‘flabbergasted’ by the decision after seeing his side enjoy the lion’s share of the play against a Concord team whose defiant and well organised defence restricted clearcut chances to a minimum.
“If the incident had happened 15 minutes earlier he would have given it,” insisted Widdrington. “I just do not think he wanted to make such a big decision so close to the final whistle.
“But these things happen and games are won and lost on incidents like these in the two boxes.”
Goalless draws can so often be boring affairs but this one certainly did not fall into that category.
Borough played a lot of exciting, entertaining football, lacking only a cutting edge in front of goal. Concord may throw up visions of a jet-propelled plane, but on Saturday they resembled a parked bus – and one extremely difficult to pass.
However, they were often a threat on the counter-attack and an early dazzling run down the right by Vanderhyde, which took him past four defenders, was spoiled only by a poor cross.
Borough, however, soon settled into their stride and the always reliable Beach Boys keeper Jamie Butler was tested by Frankie Raymond (from a free-kick) and Darren Lok. When Butler was beaten on the stroke of half-time by Gary Hart, Vanderhyde made a superb goal-line clearance.
There was more Borough pressure in an entertaining second half with Sam Cole seeing a lot of the ball on the left and making good use of it.
And Simon Johnson, with three goals to his name in the first month of the season, was looking for a fourth when his ferocious drive from 20 yards was beaten down by Butler.
Concord were sometimes reduced to desperation in the face of Borough domination, throwing bodies behind the ball as the hosts went all out for the three points that would enable them to get back among the Skrill South pacesetters.
However it could have been worse. A superb interchange of passes between Concord’s Sam Higgins and Sam Collins left home keeper Craig Ross needing to be at his best to deny Collins a winning goal.
However, in truth, only one team deserved to win, but on the evidence to date, one gets the impression that Borough, although looking a class above last season, could be a lethal striker short of a side capable of a play-off place.
Darren Lok and Chris Shephard have bags of ability, but lack height against 6ft plus defenders.
As Widdrington pointed out, “It is a question of getting the balance right between performances and results. While I would rather win than draw, I would rather draw than lose. There is no doubt we had the chances to have won this match.”
Eastbourne: Ross 7, Tallack 7, Cole 8 (Stinson 85), Gorman 6 (Aldred 67), Simpemba 7, Watts 7, Hart 7, Raymond 7, Lok 6 (Levy 67- 7), Johnson 7, Shephard 6. Unused subs: Rowe, Szafranski.
Concord: Butler, Vanderhyde, Glozie, Lampe, King, Goodacre, Gordon, White, Higgins (Hallett 85), Collins, Ogilvie.
Referee: Mr R. Hulme 6 - a good game until he got the big decision wrong.
MoM: Sam Cole: did well on the left in both defence and attack.