Five goals, from five different scorers, earned Eastbourne Borough a stunning victory at Basingstoke on Saturday – the highest away win of Tommy Widdrington’s reign and a triumph of teamwork.
Borough, with just a single point from their previous two games, were back to their very best.
With Nathan Collier injured, Widdrington gave a start in midfield to Miguel Baptista, the Portuguese playmaker who is rapidly adjusting to National South football.
Darren Lok and Elliott Romain formed what is surely the quickest strike pair in the division, and the team shape was tweaked slightly to make room for fit-again Kiran Khinda-John.
Basingstoke Town have been in a quite baffling free fall. Formidable last season, and only narrowly losing in the play-offs to Whitehawk, they should really be setting the pace this season, but instead they are a side empty of confidence.
The Stoke did make a fair start and managed a couple of goal attempts through Sam Akinde and Louie Soares, handled comfortably by Lewis Carey.
But for the home side, 0-0 after half an hour was as good as it was ever going to get.
That was when Baptista made his mark. Taking the ball on his chest with his back to goal, he swivelled and struck a dream of a volley into the top left corner. From a man who made his professional debut at Benfica’s Stadium of Light, it was an absolute laser shaft.
It stayed at 1-0 until half-time , but if Basingstoke thought they were still in the game, their hopes were shredded by an Eastbourne blitz: a bagful of goals of all kinds from every angle, in a final half-hour that must have been Borough’s best of the season.
On 64 minutes a defensive error presented Romain with a chance eight yards out, and the Sports striker snapped it up eagerly for 2-0. Five minutes later Jack Evans, from thirty yards, crashed a fabulous shot in off the underside of the bar for the goal of the game.
With Borough now in cruise control, the Stoke stole one back, Chris Flood heading in a Tom Bird cross, but it was a mere blip.
The Borough lead had never really looked threatened, and in the final minutes they extended it.
Sub Gavin McCallum expertly converted a corner with a near-post header, and then right on 90 minutes Kane Haysman slid in a low cross to complete a terrific afternoon’s work for the whole team.
Basingstoke Town: Howe, Rice (Macklin 68), Bird, Harper, Gasson, Ray, Soares (McAuley 72), Smart, Akinde (Gilkes 72), Flood, Dunn
Unused subs: Williams, Salmon
Borough: Carey, Stone, Beale, Baptista (Bosma 88), Simpemba, Watts, Evans, Khinda-John, Lok (Pinney 72), Romain (McCallum 72), Haysman
Unused subs: Worrall, Nehemie