Nat Pinney’s excellent first-half goal was enough to secure three points for Borough on the road at Staines Town on Saturday, in a contest that was more one-sided than the scoreline suggests.
On 33 minutes Pinney stormed through on to a massive long clearance from Jack Evans, outpacing the defence and expertly clipping the ball over advancing keeper Jack Turner.
It was a goal that underlined the big striker’s quality, and one that proved decisive.
But even before that strike, the Sports had created at least eight realistic scoring chances, and they went on to control the rest of the game. Mid-season may have been a bit bleak, but the Borough Spring seems to be bursting with life.
Unconvincingly, Staines manager Nicky Forster said post-match that Eastbourne had two chances and scored from one of them. In fact the single-goal margin should have been three or four, and might have been about eight. The two teams were a mile apart.
Veteran Darren Purse did lead the Swans by example – almost scoring himself in the first minute and then the 90th. But the 89 minutes in between saw few real threats to Lewis Carey’s goal.
For the second week running, young Kiran Khinda-John was impressive in central defence, coping well with bustling striker Sham Fenelon and twice making crucial interceptions in the box.
Tommy Widdrington, perhaps looking to settle the game early, started with three strikers – Lok and McCallum playing left and right of Pinney – and a front-foot midfield trio of Evans, Simon Johnson and Ryan Worrall. Gavin was in one of those moods that reduces grown defenders to tears, with Lok equally unplayable at times.
Rampaging full-backs Sam Beale and Chris Sessegnon added width, and this young Borough line-up was complete. Other than McCallum and the ageless Ian Simpemba, the whole team is in teens or early twenties.
More than once Worrall, on his 18th birthday, was desperately close to a celebratory goal. Nobody should expect wonder displays from him every week, but once again he was busy and quick-thinking at the hub of the team, and for the moment, no doubt, the Kid stays in the Picture.
There have been one or two false dawns during Widdrington’s Borough years, but he is now quite close to achieving what all coaches actually want: creativity and discipline. You don’t microchip your players. You give them a shape, but you also give them licence to keep passing the ball and then you see what happens.
At Wheatsheaf Park it mostly worked – solid shape and sound defending, lots of possession and passing.
Why not lots of goals? Home keeper Turner was several times in the right place at the right moment, and some Borough finishing was either snatched or wayward. Heck, they are Eastbourne and not Arsenal.
One of the sweetest second-half moves almost produced an Arsenal goal. Beale beat four defenders, ghosted into the area and found Pinney, whose inspired reverse flick almost set up a finish for the onrushing Lok.
Seven games left. Seven victories would be too much to expect, but the Sports certainly seem in the mood to give it a go. No pressure, Tommy...
Borough: Carey; Sessegnon (Watts 80), Simpemba, Khinda-John, Beale; Evans (Aldred 77), Worrall, Johnson; McCallum (Pacquette 85), Pinney, Lok. Unused subs: Haysman, Botting.
Referee: Steven Plane Att: 238, - 50-plus from Borough
MoM: Kiran Khinda-John.