There was nothing very festive about Eastbourne Borough’s Christmas. Ahead of the home game with Dulwich Hamlet on New Year’s Day, the Sports had suffered five defeats in a row – the latest a 2-0 reverse at Woking.
As in almost all of those defeats, Borough produced a reasonable team performance at the Kingfield against title-chasing Woking, but they were under-powered in attack and repeatedly failed to turn decent chances into goals.
It was a day to forget for Sports centre-half Tom Gardiner – usually Mr Dependable at the back. Less than two minutes in, Gardiner allowed striker Jake Hyde to harry him into an error, and from the cross Pat Edser gave Woking a simple 1-0 lead.
And just before the hour mark, a long punt from former Sports keeper Craig Ross was headed back past Smith by Gardiner for an own goal. Those two goals separated the teams, and other scoring chances were pretty even.
A swift Joel Rollinson break on 17 minutes set up Dean Cox, whose first-time strike cleared the crossbar with Ross and his defenders all a-scramble. Then Rollinson himself pulled a shot across the face of goal from a tight angle.
The Cards had only half-chances themselves, but the Gardiner own goal gave them breathing space, and Borough rarely troubled Ross as the match petered out.
Howell said only what was plain for all to see. “We had a disastrous start, yet we got back into the game. But we don’t take our chances and we concede soft goals. That isn’t a great combination.
“We expect to have one or two new faces in the squad for New Year’s Day, but the existing players have earned us some terrific results in the autumn, and we can and will turn this around.”
Borough: Smith; Adebayo-Rowling, Gardiner, Adebowale, Campbell; Rollinson, Wills, Ransom, Hall; Cox; Dawes. Subs: Blackmore, Briggs, Walker, Torres, Liddle.
Referee: Wayne Cartmel