Striker tops Christmas wish list as Eastbourne Borough lose out to St Albans

Eastbourne Borough manager Jamie Howell
Eastbourne Borough manager Jamie Howell

If Eastbourne Borough boss Jamie Howell had a wish list for Christmas, a goal-scoring centre-forward must surely have been at the top.

At Priory Lane on Saturday, home fans were made to suffer another frustrating 90 minutes as gilt-edged chances again went begging.

How the Sports manager must have wished they could have held onto Havant loanee Alfie Rutherford who made the art of goal-scoring look so easy.during his all too brief spell at Priory Lane.

Lloyd Dawes and Charlie Walker were the main culprits against a Saints side that had been without a win in seven games.

In the end, both strikers found themselves relegated to the bench with Walker replaced by regular centre-half Harry Ransom who was given a centre-forward role.

There was a not a lot wrong with Borough’s first-half performance. They showed pace and energy and deservedly led at the interval thanks to a superbly taken goal from Dean Cox.

The Saints were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute, but despite incessant pressure, The Sports were simply unable to find that finishing touch.

Borough should have been ahead within a minute as Dawes raced clear but visiting keeper Dean Snedker was quickly off his line to block the effort.

Nine minutes later an immaculate ball from Cox again put Dawes away on the right, but this time his shot flashed wide of the far post.

In the 18th minute Cox broke the deadlock when a fine ball from Ryan Hall saw the gifted midfielder draw the keeper and find the corner of the net with perfect placement.

There was action at both ends as the Saints keeper’s outstretched foot foiled Dawes and Mark Smith pulled off a good save to deny David Noble an equaliser.

Walker looked hopefully for a penalty as the diving keeper grabbed the ball off his boot but the ref’s denial looked the right decision.

Although Smith had a generally quiet afternoon, the visitors always looked dangerous coming forward and in the 52nd minute they were on level terms. Ben Wyatt’s through ball found David Moyo who calmly beat Smith.

Six minutes later came the winner as Borough failed to deal with a corner and Lewis Knight fired through a crowded goalmouth from 12 yards.

Borough found themselves facing 10 men when Clovis Kamdjo was shown a red card for a reckless challenge on Kane Wills.

They threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the Saints and Walker was unlucky with a spectacular overhead effort.

That was to be his last touch of the ball as he was immediately replaced by Harry Ransom, who might have been a late hero when he was inches away from an equaliser but his header from the lively Joel Rollinson’s cross was fractionally wide.

Snedker beat away a real blockbuster from Hall who was also just off-target from a 30-yard free-kick.

So Borough were left facing a challenging festive period from well into the bottom half of the table. The capability is there and so is the effort.

But that equation has to be converted into goals if the New Year is to be a happy one.

Borough: Smith, Adebayo-Rowling, Campbell, Wills, Adebowale, Gardiner, Cox, Dawes (Liddle 69), Walker (Ransom 82) Hall, Rollinson. Unused subs: Torres, Briggs, Blackmore.

Briggs, Blackmore.

Referee: Jack Packman.

MoM: Dean Cox. Magnificent first half including a well-taken goal.