Borough at their best as they blast Hemel for four

Tommy Widdrington
Tommy Widdrington

At last, a result to match the team’s performance. Eastbourne Borough - three up in 20 minutes - claimed a commanding away win on Saturday at Hemel Hempstead Town.

Unbeaten in six games, the Tudors had begun the afternoon second in the National South form table.

They ended it defeated and bewildered by a whole-team Eastbourne display which controlled the match from start to finish.

“Well, we should have scored more goals!” said Tommy Widdrington. “I was pleased with our midfield and forward play, but absolutely delighted with my goalkeeper and back four, who were outstanding.”

Regular Borough-watchers will know what Tommy means. His team seldom fail to score, and on Saturday the front men absolutely terrorised the Hemel defence - but this time the defence kept the back doors locked and bolted.

Widdrington set up with the eleven who had finished the fogbound Dartford game, Alex Smith slotting in on the left with Nat Pinney and Elliott Romain up front.

Jamie Taylor missed out with a hamstring problem, but the bench included Craig Stone, back from suspension.

Borough created five openings before they took the lead. Smith’s early drilled cross drew a frantic clearance from the Hemel defence, before centre-back James Kaloczi copped a fifth-minute yellow card for a spoiling foul on Romain as he broke clear.

Then Pinney released Miguel Baptista, whose shot hit the keeper and then spun to safety - but Hemel were reeling already.

On 10 minutes Baptista’s corner-kick was headed expertly into the top right corner by Mark Hughes - a perpetual-motion figure all afternoon, running the show from central midfield, with a busy Ryan Worrall alongside him.

The Tudors’ line-up included Maidstone loanees Callum Driver and Ben Greenhalgh, and the National League pair combined sweetly to create a decent sight of goal, but Josh Hare’s decisive clearance saved the danger.

The Sports were instantly back on the offensive. From Hemel’s corner, Romain and Pinney raced away and set up Smith, whose cracking shot was well saved by Jamie Butler - only for Ryan Case to follow up with a perfect finish for 2-0.

On 20 minutes it was 3-0. A well-won ball in midfield was delivered up the right to Nat Pinney, who dizzied his way past two opponents and picked his spot in the bottom corner.

The home side woke up and joined the party. Khinda-John put in a fine block to deny Driver, who then tested Jordan Holmes with a wicked volley, swerving and dipping. Holmes was a busy man for the next few minutes, confidently catching a Jordan Parkes free-kick and then twisting brilliantly to push another shot from the same player on to the crossbar and out for a corner.

At the start of the second half Widdrington replaced Case with Craig Stone and by the hour mark the Sports had created four more good scoring chances to Hemel’s one, and the Tudors never seriously threatened to reclaim the game.

On 65 minutes came the afternoon’s comedy moment. Butler, stranded by a Borough move down the right, leapt to snatch the ball off Pinney’s head - but he looked a good two yards outside the penalty area - even Butler looked embarrassed to get off scot-free.

A buccaneering Craig Stone completed thescoring as he hurtled through on 88 minutes. He shimmied the keeper and struck a triumphant fourth.

“That’s another first,” observed Widdrington. “A left-back replaced by another left-back, and both of them on the score-sheet!”

Borough: Holmes; Hare, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Case (Stone 46); Baptista (Oxlade-Chamberlain 83), Hughes, Worrall (Bosma 60), Smith; Pinney, Romain. Unused subs: Hobson, Street.

Referee: Chris Pollard

Att: 427

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