A thriller at the Lane – with some New Year fireworks thrown in – saw Eastbourne Borough break their losing sequence with a 2-1 victory over Dulwich Hamlet in National South.
A goal in each half, from Joel Rollinson and new loan Striker Joe Quigley, proved just enough to claim all three points for the Sports – their first league win since 8th December – but a big, robust Dulwich side chased them all the way to the final whistle, and beyond.
As referee Dean Skipper brought six minutes of stoppage time to a close, some visiting players were fired up enough to exchange more than simply handshakes. Winger Anthony Cook, who had just been cautioned for a rash challenge, appeared to be in the thick of altercations, while goalkeeper Preston Edwards seemed to be shown a red card by Mr Skipper. Confrontations continued into the tunnel, but Jamie Howell was restrained with his comments later. “It took us by surprise to be honest. It had been a really close contest, and maybe one or two feelings rose a little bit high. My players did not initiate anything, and I think our conscience is clear. By the time we got in the clubhouse, it was all perfectly civil again.”
Howell started with both of his new signings, and fittingly both played crucial roles. Impressive striker Joe Quigley, in from Bromley, clinched the second-half winner, while new keeper Sam Howes fully earned his Man of the Match accolade. And it was a third loan player, the lively Joel Rollison, who had given Borough a 28th minute lead.
Quigley was already winning headers – a lost art amongst Eastbourne strikers this season – and showing equal skill with the ball at his feet, swerving past three opponents but shooting too high.
On 27 minutes, the match itself took a significant swerve. First, Jason Banton picked Tom Gardiner’s pocket and zoomed in on goal, but Sam Howes was out to spread himself for a terrific save. And within seconds Borouh were ahead. A crisp exchange of passes opened up the Hamlet defence and Kane Wills’ inch-perfect cutback from the byline was drilled in from ten yards by Rollinson.
Now it was all Eastbourne, and it might literally have been three or four. Mr Skipper turned down a credible penalty claim with Gardiner pulled down at a corner. Then Charlie Walker – who put in a vigorous shift all afternoon – played a classic one-two with Rollison but scorched his first-time shot inches over the crossbar. And, with Dulwich ripped part like Christmas wrapping paper, Wills was skilfully played in by Quigley and Adebayo-Rowling, but his strike veered just wide of the near post.
Hamlet should have been dead and buried – but instead, a minute before half-time, they poached an equaliser. A cross from the left was headed high but not very far, and with defenders wrong-footed it fell to Dipo Akinyemi, popping the ball in from ten yards.
The visitors broke out only fitfully, with Gardiner – redeeming himself after a nightmare afternoon at Woking – producing one immaculate tackle on a breaking Akinyemi. But Borough were full of purpose and in no mood to throw away yet more National South points. On 57 minutes, Tobi conjured an astonishing run, searing down the right touchline and then conjuring the perfect cross, met by Quigley’s confident header for 2-1. A goal worthy of winning any game.
Borough: Howes; Adebayo-Rowling, Gardiner, Ransom, Campbell; Rollinson (Briggs 76), Wills, Torres, Cox (Liddle 83) Walker (Dawes 79), Quigley. Referee: Dean Skipper Att: 702 MoM: Sam Howes