IT WAS coming – defeat was hanging in the air. Even a magnificent Tommy Forecast blotted his copybook and could not lift the gloom which has settled over a beleaguered Eastbourne Borough.
Forecast, a deadline-day signing from Southampton, kept Boro’ within a slim chance of a comeback from 2-0 down in the second half.
But after making a flurry of superb saves, he coughed up the ball to substitute Nathan Fisher for Gateshead’s third goal.
But the game was already long gone. Boro’, without a single shot on goal in one of their worst performances of the season – handed the game to Gateshead on a plate and they should have feasted with greater gusto.
Manager Garry Wilson, consigned to the stands with a pitch-side ban, admitted his side was likely to suffer the drop.
Asked if turning professional was the answer, boss Garry Wilson said, “I don’t think we can do it at this point. We need to try and get through this, try and stay in the division and changes will definitely have to be made for next season. But we cannot use that as an excuse.
“We thought we could survive it but we can’t and that’s just fact.”
Boro’s old guard and new loanees – Dan Walker of Luton and George Purcell of York lining up on the wings – looked short of energy and direction in the opening 10 minutes and Gateshead soon seized the initiative.
Although Forecast managed to turn a Jon Shaw shot around the post, two minutes later he was picking the ball out of his own net.
Gary Mulligan’s deflected cross found its way through a scrambling Boro’ defence and the unmarked Martin Brittain converted with little opposition. Just two minutes later Gateshead had racked up their second goal.
Newcastle United loanee Johan Edmundsson dispossessed a hapless Boro’ midfield and threaded a beautifully weighted ball from just outside his own half to Brittain careering down the right flank. Brittain turned a defender inside out before rifling the ball past Forecast. Just 17 minutes in and the game was beyond Boro’.
Jamie Taylor was full of running up front but even his impressive industry could not magic something from nothing. His strike partner Andy Atkin tried to hold up the ball long enough for Boro’ to clear their lines but was no match for an efficient Gateshead defence.
Walker provided Boro’s rare moments of hope as he cut in twice from the right-hand side to rip two shots low and hard across the goal – neither of which forced a save from the Gateshead ‘keeper.
Half-time could not have come sooner for Boro’ and the break seemed to take the sting out of a relentless first-half Gateshead attack.
Edmundsson’s early half-time departure and a committed Forecast spared Boro’ from further blushes. But in the 82nd minute it was the debutant keeper who was left with egg on his face.
Straying from his goal line to claim a routine corner, the ball slipped through Forecast’s hands and into the feet of Fisher who pounded the ball into an empty net.
Official man-of-the-match Forecast hung his head and minutes later the final whistle mercifully brought the match to a close.
After the game Wilson said belief in the dressing room was faltering and the mood at the club was dark.
He said, “We are shouting, screaming, trying to pick them up, trying to get players in, get players back to fitness, trying to appease the supporters, organise training sessions. But all in all it’s not the most enjoyable times to be honest.”
• Eastbourne Borough 0, Gateshead 3
Eastbourne: Forecast 8, Baker 5, Austin 6, Elphick 6, Jenkins 5, Walker 6, Strevett 6 (sub Hutchinson, 84), Weatherstone 5, Purcell 4, Taylor 6, Atkin 4 (sub Masterton 65).
Subs not used: Demetriou, N.Crabb. Booked: Elphick
Gateshead: Deasy, Tavernier, Curtis, Clark, Liddle, Brittain, Turnbull, Gate, Edmundsson (Nelthorpe, 46), Shaw (Gillies, 87), Mulligan (Fisher, 26).
Subs not used: Farman, Baxter.
Ref: Simon Long (Suffolk). Att: 612.