Eastbourne Borough could be forgiven for hoping they don’t face Chelmsford City in National League South next season after disastrous second halves in the two games between the teams cost a total of eight goals (writes Ken McEwan).
City came to Priory Lane on Saturday with a play-off place guaranteed and proceeded to score three second half goals to secure third place and a home semi-final. Back in October, Borough were leading 2-0 at the interval away to City only to crash 5-2. These two games typified a desperately frustrating season for Jamie Howell’s men. Too often they have followed a hugely promising first half with a second period horror show.
In Saturday’s opening 45 minutes Borough could easily have been mistaken for the promotion contenders such was the quality of their football which for long periods had City on the back foot. A fine home move culminated with Jamie Taylor’s drive swirling wide of the mark and in the 28th minute a ferocious 20-yarder from the lively Lloyd Dawes was finger-tipped onto the post by visiting keeper Jake Jessup.
Dawes was a constant menace to the City defence and on one occasion swept past three defenders only to make a complete mess of his final pass to the unmarked Gavin McCallum who before the game was presented with the supporters’ player of the season award. But as half-time approached Borough got a taste of things to come. First Scott Fenwick’s header found the back of the net only for the cheers of the vociferous visiting fans to be silenced by the offside flag.
The best chance of the game fell to Fenwick in stoppage time as the striker sliced the ball past the advancing Mark Smith and wide of the post from little more than six yards.
These late first half threats by City left home fans apprehensive about their team’s second half prospects and rightly so. Within seven minutes of the resumption the deadlock was broken when Fenwick headed home a cross from the left by Jonathan Giles.
It seemed amazing that Dawes, the one player causing problems to the City defence was replaced by Charlie Harris in the 67th minute. Two minutes later, the visitors’ advantage was doubled following a penalty given for handball by James Haran. Fenwick’s spot kick was tipped away by Mark Smith but the penalty-taker reacted like lightning to steer home from an angle on the left. In the 73rd minute it was all over bar the shouting as Anthony Church somewhat clumsily converted Craig Braham-Barrett’s cross with the diving Mark Smith making no secret of who he was blaming for the goal – and it wasn’t him!
In the closing minutes Taylor and Charlie Harris tested the keeper with Ian Simpemba coming on for what could be his last hurrah as he turns his attention to coaching.
But by this time Borough supporters’ minds were on what they hope will be better things next season.
Borough: Smith, Khinda-John (Simpemba 84), Hendon, Taylor Haran, Ransom, Wills, Torres, Dawes (Harris 67), Odubade, McCallum. Ref: Will Finnie,
MoM: Lloyd Dawes: