By Ken McEwan
DESPITE scoring one of the best goals seen at Priory Lane for many a year, Eastbourne Borough failed to halt a worrying slide down the table on Saturday as they suffered their fifth defeat in their last six National League South games.
In contrast Hampton extended their unbeaten league run to 20 matches and are right in the thick of the promotion race.
If Jamie Howell’s men are to get back to winning ways, however, they must be more clinical in front of goal with both Gavin McCallum and Yemi Odubade missing gilt-edged chances late in the game.
But the big talking point at the end centred around the goal Eastbourne did score which came in the eighth minute when Lloyd Dawes received a short ball out of defence from Kane Wills and then embarked on an amazing 70-yard run which ended with a perfect slot past advancing keeper Manny Agboola.
It was a classic goal by the mid-season signing from Worthing and one that will remain in the memory for a very long time.
It should have given the hosts an appetite for more, but Hampton were quick to bounce back and just four minutes later Josh Carey’s long free-kick from the right was touched onto the bar by Mark Smith.
Although there were times when Hampton showed their promotion-chasing quality, The Sports were never short of honest endeavour and looked set to hold their advantage at least until half-time.
But in the 45th minute their lead was extinguished when poor defensive work resulted in Charlie Wassmer blasting into the roof of the net after Smith had done well to deny former Borough player Elliott Charles.
At half-time it was anyone’s game and Shaun Okojie showed his promise early in the second half with a fine 20-yard effort which tested Agboola.
But on the hour Hampton grabbed the winner with Max Kretzschmar easily beating Smith with a fine header from a left wing cross. Unfortunately for The Sports, what a appeared to be a blatant foul by Charles on Okojie immediately before the goal, was not given by Paul Harris, one of a number of strange decisions by the referee.
To their credit, the hosts kept battling away and will be frustrated that two late clearcut chances were not taken.
First McCallum’s effort was superbly saved by the keeper before the same player wastefully shot over from just a few yards out.
Then, as the minutes ticked away, Odubade, who had replaced Sergio Torres, headed McCallum’s cross straight into the keeper’s arms. Had he placed the ball either side of Agboola, the home team would have at least been celebrating a point.
Overall, this was not a bad performance by the home team who gave high-riding Hampton plenty to think about.
But promising performances have to be turned into points if that dreaded word relegation is not to gain momentum.
Eastbourne: Smith, Udoji (Simpemba 62), Hendon, Wills, Khinda-John, Haran, Ransom, Torres (Odubade 77), Okojie, Dawes, McCallum. Subs not used: Richards, Johnson, Pearson.
Referee: Paul Harris.
Mom: Lloyd Dawes: wonder goal was highlight of the game.