Dartford are set to provide Eastbourne Borough stern FA Trophy test

Jamie Howell
Jamie Howell

Eastbourne Borough return home to Priory Lane tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm) after some gruelling away trips – and manager Jamie Howell cannot wait to get his teeth into an FA Trophy campaign.

National South rivals Dartford are the visitors, and the manager has no complaints with the draw. “They are tough opponents and they’ll bring good support,” said Howell. “But you always want a home tie and I think we can really get at them.”

Defeats on the road at Concord Rangers and Bath City did not show Borough at their best, he feels. “We’ve played well in patches recently. Conceding from three set pieces at Concord, and one at Bath, tells a story. We are playing some lovely football, but we have to be able to withstand physical pressure.”

Howell signed two loanees from Reading ahead of the Bath trip, and both made an instant impression. Wide man Joel Rollinson had a useful hour, and rangy striker Adam Liddle was causing havoc in the Bath City defence within minutes – before an ankle injury from a heavy tackle curtailed his pace.

“Adam will hopefully be fit again and play a role on Saturday, and Joel played increasingly well as game progressed. They are talented and eager, and they give us something different. From having been frustrated by injuries, I might suddenly be spoiled for choice now. Lloyd Dawes is in full training and he will have played – along with Yemi Odubade and Mike West – in the Under-23 fixture last night (Thursday). Lloyd gives us a different dimension.”

Jamie, of course, has history with the FA Trophy, having taken Bognor Regis Town to the semi-finals in 2016. “I love it as a competition. The FA Cup is still the ultimate dream for a non-League club, but the Trophy is reality. Every club in the tournament can see a pathway through to Wembley.

Dartford always carry a threat and a strong reputation, but the North Kent club is still undergoing major surgery on the playing side after a change of management in the summer.

They arrive at Priory Lane on the back of mixed, but improving, results and they carry real threats – not least in Charlie Sheringham.

The classy striker, son of England international Teddy, actually scored six goals in a single game at the Lane – for a League representative side managed by Tommy Widdrington two seasons ago. More recently, he earned a red card against the Sports in the 2-2 draw at Princes Park for a forearm foul on Harry Ransom. Borough had led twice, through David Martin and Sergio Torres, but were pegged back by a dubious Darts penalty and then a 94th minute equaliser. League points dropped – and a Trophy point to prove.