SLOWLY but surely Eastbourne Borough are inching their way towards the Blue Square Bet South play-off positions.
While Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win over Eastleigh was solid rather than spectacular, it took Garry Wilson’s men to sixth place in the table, their highest position this season.
While a rapid return to the Premier League may be considered too soon for a club that endured a nightmare last season, there is no doubt that the gradual return to fitness of key players has strengthened the squad into one capable of a promotion challenge.
Wilson himself is relieved that the points are starting to accumulate after an uncertain start to the campaign. “We are not quite there yet, but there is a bit of relief and happiness about the place. We are getting more confident and smiling faces are returning to the dressing-room,” he said.
“It is going to take time, but we knew we had a strong squad and the return of injured players means we have options and can make more choices.
“It is going to take time, but we are going the correct way rather than going backwards. We are where we want to be and considering all the injuries it has been a decent start.”
“I was very pleased with the intensity and pressure we showed on the ball in the first half. Ben Watson’s goal was fantastic.”
The visitors fought hard and enjoyed most of the second half possession, but only on rare occasions did they really look like scoring, although they would certainly have pulled a goal back but for two splendid saves from home keeper Rikki Banks.
Borough went ahead in the 10th minute after Matt Crabb’s corner was only partially cleared. Simon Johnson drilled the ball back into a crowded goalmouth and it fell kindly for Ollie Rowe to slot home from close range.
In the 21st minute, Borough doubled their advantage with a goal of rare quality. A magnificent through ball from Steve Brinkhurst fell perfectly at the feet of the excellent Ben Watson who beat advancing keeper Gareth Barfoot with aplomb.
Only the brilliance of Banks denied Jamie Slabber in the 40th minute, the keeper making a flying one-handed save to keep out the striker’s header.
Banks was again in action in the second half, tipping a curling Jamie Brown effort over the bar.
But while Eastleigh were left to rue some woeful finishing, it was was Borough who looked dangerous with their quick counter-attacks.
It is hardly surprising that no team has scored more goals at home than Borough this season with strikers on the bench with the quality of Carl Rook and Bailo Camara.
Camara, who has moved into the area after playing professional football in Portugal, is the ideal man to bring on against tiring defenders.
He made two scintillating left flank runs culminating in intelligent crosses, either of which could have resulted in goals.
Matt Crabb finally sealed the points off in the 88th minute, side-footing home a low cross from the right by Gary Hart to send the fans home with little to complain about.
EASTBOURNE: Banks 8, Baker 7, Cole 7, Hutchinson 7, Rowe 7 , Elphick 7, Brinkhurst 7 (Camara 7 – 76), Johnson 8 (Smart 89), Watson 8* (Rook 80), Hart 8, Crabb 7. Unused subs: Strevett, Shaw.
EASTLEIGH: Barfoot, Breimyr, Forbes, Brown, Jordan, Bottomley, White, Smini, Slabber, Gillespie, Montgomery (Holder-Spooner 56). Referee: Mr. R. Atkin.
MoM: Ben Watson – a classic goal and always a threat up front.
REF: Mr R. Atkin 7.ATT: 663.