Eastbourne Borough’s climb up the National League South table came to an abrupt halt at windswept Priory Lane on Saturday as crisis club Billericay Town overcame a week of adversity to take all three points.
Ricay arrived on Saturday having just lost six players and a kitman, including former Brighton striker Jake Robinson, following reports of wage cuts as part of a takeover bid.
They suffered a further major blow just after the half-hour mark when the match was delayed for 32 minutes following a nasty injury to Adam Coombes who was knocked out cold as he dived to head home following a goal-line clearance, only to catch the raised boot of Borough captain Sergio Torres.
There was genuine concern throughout the ground as the referee ordered both sides back to their dressing-rooms and an appeal for a doctor was made over the public address system. Medics carried out emergency treatment and an ambulance eventually arrived.
To everyone’s huge relief, Coombes finally regained consciousness and was able to walk – albeit assisted - to the ambulance. It was later announced that he had sustained a facial injury.
The game restarted with referee Steven Hughes having awarded a penalty and Ross Lafayette blasted home from the spot sending keeper Mark Smith the wrong way.
An understandably upset Torres was replaced by Manny Adebowale although it should be emphasised that there was no malice intended in what was a high attempted clearance.
The incident took some of the momentum from what had been a keenly fought game with both sides doing their best to overcome the fierce wind.
There were chances at both ends in the opening five minutes. Coombes found himself one-on-one with Mark Smith but the keeper did well to come out and block the effort.
At the other end Adam Liddle burst through on the right and only the finger-tips of Alan Julian saved the day for the visitors.
The wind and rain were playing havoc with high balls and Sam Deering’s corner kick from the left curled dangerously close to Smith’s far upright.
After the long injury delay and penalty, Joseph Kizzi was just inches away from doubling the visitors’ advantage when he headed wide following a corner.
Borough looked well capable of getting an equaliser as the second half opened but instead it was 2-0 in the 49th minute when a super-strike from outside the area by Devonte Aransibia just about sealed the points.
To their credit, however, Borough never gave up the fight. With Lloyd Dawes on for Liddle and Harry Ransom occupying a centre-forward slot, they surged forward with Ryan Hall’s 35-yard blockbuster just clearing the bar and Dawes himself seeing his shot tipped against the woodwork by the keeper.
But after a highly competitive and entertaining game, the best news came when it was reported that Adam Coombes was recovering well in hospital.
There are occasions when the result takes second place.
Borough: Smith, Adebayo-Rowling, Gardner, Ransom, Campbell, Wills, Hall, Torres (Adebowale 32), Cox, Rollinson (Walker 82), Liddle (Dawes 70), Subs not used: Martin, Briggs.
MoM: Dean Cox – hard-working and accurate as always.
Referee: Steven Hughes.