By Ken McEwan
THE size of Mark McGhee’s task was there for all to see as a shellshocked Priory Lane crowd of 720 watched a disjointed Borough crash to their seventh home defeat of the season.
Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong for Borough. Keeper Sam Howes was sent off just before half-time and early in the second half the injured Lloyd Dawes was helped off. With all three subs used, the Sports were reduced to nine men for the final half an hour.
McGhee and new coach Charlie Oatway received warm applause from home fans as they took their place in the dugout for the first time, but sadly there was little more to cheer about for the rest of the afternoon.
The Stones looked stronger and hungrier for the ball from the start; Borough have fallen apart in numerous second periods this season but this must have ranked as their worst first-half performance.
Neither keeper had a shot to save in a scrappy first half an hour in which the home defence struggled to contain the burly Jeffrey Monakana whose speed and ball control on the left flank was a constant threat to an often panicky home defence.
It was little surprise when the Stones went ahead in the 33rd minute, Dave Pratt’s glancing header from Romani Medford-Smith;s cross from the left finding the corner of the net.
Howes dived to save Daniel Green’s free-kick as the Stones pressed for more before a series of disasters began to crush McGhee’s men. Tarryn Allarakhi chased a long ball down the middle and Howes paid the price for a moment’s hesitation as he raced 25 yards out of his goal. The Wealdstone player won the race and was illegally stopped in his tracks, leaving the keeper with a deserved early bath for preventing a clearcut scoring chance.
The Sports had barely got over the shock when Wealdstone doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time, Tarryn Allarakhia racing through to slot past substitute keeper James Earl.
Two down with 10 men on the field, the second half was always going to be a damage limitation exercise. But things were to go from bad to worse for the hosts. Lively sub Lloyd Dawes limped off with a suspected ankle ligament injury in the 66th minute and with all three subs on the field, Borough were down to nine men,
To their credit, they kept fighting and nobody worked harder than skipper Dean Cox but any form of a comeback never looked even a remote possibility.
The inevitable third goal came in the 81st minute, Daniel Green’s long range effort from the right being completely misjudged by academy keeper Earl whose first team debut had arrived in the worst of circumstances.
But the under-18 keeper did make amends with a magnificent diving save to deny Medford-Smith. So the long suffering Borough supporters went home lamenting defeat for the seventh time this season at Priory Lane. Their hopes now lay with two household names whose remit is to steady a sinking ship.
On the evidence of this game, they will need a magic wand.
Eastbourne: Howes, Hamilton (Briggs 43), Campbell, Wills, Ransom, Gardiner, Cox, West, Ljubicic, Blackmore (Earl 43), Martin (Dawes 54). Unused subs: Myles-Meekums, Santos.
Referee: Jack Packman.
MoM: Dean Cox: never stopped running.