Eastbourne Borough return to Priory Lane tomorrow (Saturday), eager to get their National South campaign back on course against visitors Hungerford Town.
The Sports endured a miserable day in Essex last Saturday, beaten 3-2 at Chelmsford City, after a feeble start had seen them 3-0 down in half an hour. But on Tuesday night an almost full-strength side overwhelmed Eastbourne United in the Sussex Senior Cup derby, and boss Jamie Howell was a lot happier.
“It was a chance to get back to our values. We played fluent football, moved the ball quickly and scored some excellent goals. United played well especially at the start, and frustrated us, as well as causing a threat themselves. After that first 20 minutes, once we were in front, we settled down and got the movement going.
“Nobody was more upset than me with that first half on Saturday. We knew it would be tough, but we actually made it easier for Chelmsford with slack play at the back, giving them chances from set-pieces and long throws. We did recover and were close to grabbing a point, and Tuesday’s decent work-out has helped.”
The Senior Cup game also some promising younger faces. “Yes, Andrew Briggs filled the 4 shirt very confidently, and then we brought on a further trio, all aged 16 – Dan Blackmore was solid, Brad Santos showed lots of confidence on the ball, and James Earl had a couple of good saves in goal. Most pleasingly, they slotted straight into the pattern of our play.”
Kane Wills and Tom Gardiner return for the visit of Hungerford, who lie third from bottom in a little group of clubs in some danger of being cast adrift. Howell, though, is not deceived. “It’s the oldest cliché to say that anyone can beat anyone, but in this National South division it is definitely true. We ourselves are fifteenth but we’re only four points off the play-off places!”
Borough have slipped up more than once at the Lane, but Jamie hopes that, with two wins and eight goals in the the last two home games, his side are finally in the groove. “We know – and the supporters have seen – that we can play with a flourish. We’re scoring freely and we’re entertaining. We just need to keep the back door locked!”
Meanwhile the club is buzzing with the news that Borough are short-listed for the Community Club of the Year award from the Football Supporters Federation. They already hold the equivalent award from the National League itself, and chairman John Bonar says the nomination is well deserved. “Really it’s just a recognition of what we do at the Lane, week in, week out. You see the activity, from the nippers to the Walking Footballers, from the first team to the Disability team. We are a hub of the community, and that’s where we want to stay!” Details of the award nomination – and how supporters can back it – are on the Borough website.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3.00pm, and then next Tuesday (13th) the Sports are on the road to Essex again, to take on Concord Rangers.