A second-half recovery, and two inspired goal strikes, earned Eastbourne Borough the points at distant Weston Super Mare.
The Sports had fallen behind early in a sluggish first half, but after the break they looked transformed.
“At half-time I just told them they looked like a team that had spent five hours on a coach,” chuckled boss Tommy Widdrington afterwards. “But football matches last 90 minutes and not forty-five. We never panicked, we played the better football and we came good in the end.”
After their own dreadful start to the season, the home side attacked from the first whistle. Several fouls and two early yellow cards set the tone.
Without the injured Ryan Worrall, Widdrington gave a first start of the season in midfield to Adam Watts, who responded with a powerful display. Darren Lok was back on the bench with his hamstring now mended, and Elliott Romain led the line.
But Weston snatched an 18th minute lead with the ultimate breakaway goal. Borough were caught too high up the pitch, and Dayle Grubb took full advantage with a sprint from inside his own half, keeping his head well and burying the ball low past Lewis Carey’s right hand.
Two minutes later, Scott Wilson was only a stretched toe away from doubling the lead from a right wing cross, but almost immediately the young Weston striker made a less savoury mark, crunching into Kiran Khinda-John with a late challenge that earned a yellow card.
The hobbling Khinda-John lasted only five more minutes before being replaced by Nat Pinney – although ironically the enforced substitution paid off well for the Sports. The reshuffle slotted Pinney into the number 10 role behind Romain, and the partnership was to work very sweetly.
Half-time arrived with no equaliser in sight, but with no further damage, and after the break Borough looked fresher and more purposeful.
Pinney teed-up Romain, who had pulled away on the right of the area. The striker kept his head, drew the keeper and drilled a low shot inside the back post for 1-1.
Borough were in control now, and Weston’s flagging defenders must have been distraught to see the perpetual-motion Romain replaced by a mercurial Darren Lok on the hour.
And if Romain’s strike had been excellent, Lok actually bettered it within three minutes of coming on. Pinney again was the main man, shrugging off two challenges and slipping a little pass to Lok, who had instinctively found space. Lok’s turn-and-shot blistered into the corner.
The Sports had four or five more chances to seal the win, with a mix of narrow squeaks and spectacular misses. But more important, this was a time to pull up the drawbridge, sit tight and deny the home side any path back into the game.
Tommy’s team is still a work in progress, but they are getting better by the week, and that ability to manage a game and play as a unit is one of their hallmarks.
There was actually a final flurry from Weston, not that they merited a point. But Carey – commanding throughout the game – held a low Plummer shot and then brilliantly pushed away a narrow-angle effort from Grubb to ensure a happy journey home.
Weston: Purnell, Withey, Barnes, Keary, Ingram (Plummer 67), Fortune, Cane (Edge 74), Byrne, Wilson, Grubb, McClennan (Ash 83).
Borough: Carey; Stone, Simpemba, Khinda-John (Pinney 28), Beale; Collier, Watts; McCallum (Baptista 80), Evans, Romain (Lok 59), Haysman.
Referee: Andrew Laver
MoM: Adam Watts – back to his very best