Prolific striker departs but Eastbourne Borough boss remains upbeat ahead of Chelmsford City

Jamie Howell
Jamie Howell

Eastbourne Borough will be without last week’s hat-trick hero Alfie Rutherford as their first away fixture since the end of September takes them to Chelmsford City tomorrow (Saturday).

Rutherford was recalled to his parent club Havant and Waterlooville following last week’s three-goal blast against Hemel Hempstead.

The Sports however will travel to Essex with confidence as they are the only club in National South who remain unbeaten away from home.

Manager Jamie Howell (right) says that record is not just chance or good fortune. “Including the FA Cup, we have won three games away from home, and drawn four – but two of those draws should really have been two more wins. At Dartford and at Gloucester we were leading until deep into stoppage time.

“We were furious with ourselves at dropping those points, and that is a measure of our determination and purpose this year. If you travel in fear, expecting to be rolled over, you’ll get rolled over.

“It’s almost a subconscious thing, as well as conscious. We start tight, disciplined, each player knowing his role. We know we will always nick a goal.”

The Sports have not failed to score in any game since the opening day of the season – a goalless draw at Oxford in a furnace approaching 40 degrees. Rutherford’s return to Havant, after hitting six goals in five games for Borough, is a blow but was not unexpected.

“Alfie was pure gain for us,” declares Jamie. “We were good for each other, and we knew a recall was always a possibility if he did well for us.

“But if you look at our results since August, the goals have been shared around nicely. Both centre-backs have scored, and even the skipper has finally chipped in.”

That last comment comes with a chuckle. Sergio Torres, despite being in sensational form all season, had not scored until Tuesday’s home game with Hampton, and there were smiles all round when the popular club captain finally broke his duck.

With Lloyd Dawes fit again alongside Charlie Walker and Yemi Odubade, Howell will probably perm two strikers from three to start against Chelmsford.

The Clarets themselves, usually one of the division’s strongest clubs, have enjoyed mixed fortunes this season. They have notched only one league win at home this season, rather undermining the Melbourne Stadium’s fortress reputation.

The Clarets, who include former Borough man Kiran Khinda-John in their line-up, slipped to a 3-0 midweek defeat at Concord Rangers, while the Sports were battling out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Hampton. “That was probably a fair result,” said Howell. “We had a crazy ten minutes at 2-0 up and Hampton pegged us back, but they are a very good side, and four points from the two home games is a decent return.

“We had plenty of good individual performances. Harry Ransom and Tom Gardiner are in good form at centre-back and Smudge did well in goal, so it’s ironic that we did let the goals in. The lads are annoyed with themselves, and that’s a good sign.

“We’re looking at the video to see if there are things to put right, but we are in good shape. The league table is really tight and, like all clubs, a little run of good results could see us leapfrog.”

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