Former favourite Jamie Taylor returned to haunt Priory Lane on Tuesday night with two goals, as visitors Margate shook Borough with a commanding 4-1 victory.
The gifted striker has graced Borough with many past displays, and Jamie was given a warm reception by the Sports supporters. Kane Wills, a young Sports midfielder under Garry Wilson, was equally well received.
But the defeat still hurt. Just three days after their own five-star performance – 5-1 at Basingstoke – Borough’s eventful season had suddenly taken another sideways lurch, on a strangely entertaining night.
Margate’s expensive squad arrived at the Lane with just four points from nine games, but they made a nonsense of that feeble record with a blistering first-half performance that Borough simply could not handle. Three goals in the first half-hour put the game virtually beyond Borough, who did at least steady the ship in the second half.
Tommy Widdrington started with Nat Pinney in place of Darren Lok in attack, and Ryan Worrall took over from Miguel Baptista in midfield. Left-back Isaac Nehemie replaced the suspended Sam Beale.
Margate might have been ahead on 55 seconds, with a Danny Green header deflected wide, and they did take the lead after five minutes. A corner from the left skidded across goal and despite a brave Lewis Carey stop, Taylor scuffled the ball in.
Three minutes later Gavin McCallum was unfortunate to see his header from a corner just kept out by a combination of crossbar and defender’s head, and for a spell Borough looked capable of levelling the game. Loping striker Freddie Ladapo was a real handful, and speedy full-backs Glenn Wilson and Nathan Green pushed up repeatedly to give the Borough defence extra headaches in the wide areas.
And if Taylor’s first goal had been a scramble, his second was a sublime strike, set up by Ladapo’s knock-down and fizzing into the far corner for 2-0. Then on the half-hour, a similar unstoppable drive by Wilson added a third goal and Eastbourne looked for a while like non-swimmers in the deep end.
In a better spell just before the break, Borough came close to pulling back a goal that might have made the difference. The Pinney- Haysman-McCallum trio combined well, but for no more reward than a corner, and then McCallum – a tireless forager all night – arrowed a shot across the face of goal. And after half-time, with Adam Watts off the bench to become a third centre back, the Sports had a better shape, and a performance that had threatened to dissolve into panic regained its composure. Pinney curled a shot just wide and McCallum was thwarted in the box by keeper Nikki Bull.
But even then it was Margate who found the killer edge, slicing through the centre of the home defence for Wills to lay on a decisive finish for Freddie Ladapo. Carey was the busier of the two goalkeepers, with two excellent saves to deny Taylor a hat-trick.
With just three minutes left, a clean strike from substitute Miguel Baptista gave Borough a final flourish, but Margate had already done more than enough for the points.
Managers and coaches can do the analysing. Players can dust down, grit their teeth and put it right next time. But for supporters – and reporters – it is enough sometimes to reflect on a very decent game, be generous in defeat, and agree that the opposition deserved their win. Well played, Margate.
Borough: Carey; Stone, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Nehemie; Worrall (Watts 46), Evans; McCallum, Pinney, Romain (Lok 70), Haysman (Baptista 84). Unused subs: Street, Bosma.
Referee: Mr J Amey
MoM: Gavin McCallum