By Ken McEwan
Eastbourne Borough went down fighting, but it was not enough to prevent a third successive league defeat that has sent The Sports plunging into the strugglers’ zone of National League South.
Mark Smith made his debut in the Borough goal, but there was more evidence at a wet and windy Priory Lane that it is the defence as a whole that needs strengthening.
Failure to deal with set pieces again proved a major factor and although the two sides were level at the interval, City could have been at least three goals to the good but for wasteful finishing.
Certainly, these are worrying times for boss Jamie Howell. A few weeks ago, ninth place in the table looked promising enough but this unwanted and unexpected hat-trick of defeats has left a play-off position more a pipe-dream than a realistic hope.
The warning signs on Saturday were there for all to see as Bath forced three early corners, two the result of punches from keeper Smith.
Yet Howell’s men should have gone ahead in the 20th minute when visiting keeper Luke Southwood failed to hold a fierce drive from Charlie Harris. The ball fell kindly to Jamie Taylor, but a last-gasp challenge from Jack Batten denied Borough what would have been a confidence-boosting goal.
At the other end Tom Smith cut in from the right but his cross ran tantalisingly across the home goalmouth before Frankie Artus made a complete hash of heading his side in front from just a yard out.
When Tom Smith completely miskicked with the goal gaping in front of him, it seemed as if it wasn’t to be Bath’s day, but they finally went ahead in the 38th minute when Borough failed to clear a corner on the left and Nat Jarvis’s shot on the turn found its way into the back of the net through a crowd of players.
Borough, though, were level at the interval with a 45th minute goal, Lloyd Dawes nodding in a free-kick from Kane Wills with the Bath defence standing still and watching.
Home fans hoped that goal would give their team the boost they so desperate;ly needed but it was not to be as Bath regained the lead in the 68th minute, when Jarvis completed a brace by turning in a cross from the right by Miles Welch-Hayes.
Thirteen minutes later Welch-Hayes made it 3-1, firing home from an angle on the right after Borough had failed to deal with another corner.
Home hopes were lifted with the lively Dawes scoring his second goal following a shrewd ball from Wills which at least produced an exciting finale.
And it was so nearly a point for Borough when Ian Simpemba’s header sped goalwards in the 89th minute, but Matt Richards’ goal-line save ensured that the points were going west.
Eastbourne: Smith, Hendon (Charman 90), McCallum, Wills, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Drage (Redwood 73), Torres, Dawes, Taylor, Harris. Unused subs: Ransom, Pearson, Platt.
Referee: Robert Whitton.
MoM: Lloyd Dawes - two goals and a lot of hard work.