Eastbourne Borough gained rapid revenge for their solitary-goal defeat at Basingstoke six days earlier, leaving assistant boss Neil Hillier believing The Sports can still finish in a play-off place.
“If we had lost a second time to Basingstoke I think the gap would have been too big,” he admitted. “But this win was huge for us. although I thought we played better when we went there and lost. Today, we had the rub of the green and things fell right for us in the box.
“We have now proved ourselves good enough to beat the leaders (Boreham Wood 4-1) and Basingstoke who are third and we have Sam Beale coming back which will be massive for us.”
The star of the Borough show at Priory Lane on Saturday was skipper Ian Simpemba who scored one goal, made another and generally produced a flawless display at the heart of the home defence.
It was Basingstoke who started the stronger with the tricky Chris Flood an early threat and a David Ray header bringing the best out of keeper Lewis Carey.
But it was Borough who went ahead in the 17th minute. Ryan Worrell’s free-kick was nodded on by Simpemba for Darren Lok to steer past keeper Stuart Moore from close range.
In the 27th minute it was 2-0 as Simpemba’s wind-assisted back header from Marvin Hamilton’s throw from the left flew into the far top corner of the net.
If Basingstoke were hoping for a second half wind advantage that Borough had earlier enjoyed they were disappointed as it suddenly dropped and the hosts looked more likely to add to their score. The gods were certainly looking down on the Priory Lane hosts!
Desperate to get something out of the game Basingstoke made a double substitution with Pat Cox and Manny Williams replacing strikers Lloyd Macklin and Chris Flood. And when Louie Soares limped off a couple of minutes later the visitors had all three subs on the field with still half an hour remaining.
They were close to pulling a goal back when a clearance by Carey was blocked by Williams who failed to find the net from a difficult angle. Then Marvin Hamilton did well to block a Cox effort as he attempted to shoot past Carey and Rob Dickie went close with a 25-yard sizzler.
But manager Tommy Widdrington had the real ace up his sleeve when he sent on Richard Pacquette for the lively Lok. The burly striker had been on the field just two minutes when he sealed the game with a low drive on the turn from just inside the area after fine work on the left from Gavin McCallum.
Despite this defeat after a 12-point Christmas holiday haul, Basingstoke remain strong play-off contenders.
For Borough it was a welcome three points after just two in the previous four games.
If they can just bring some consistency into their play and get a run of wins going, there will be many others sharing Neil Hillier’s belief that a top five position could just be achieved come next April.
MoM: Ian Simpemba – faultless in all areas of the game
Eastbourne: Carey, Hamilton, Khinda-John, Aldred, Simpemba, Raymond, Haysman (Sinclair 67), Worrell (Pinney 74), Lok (Pacquette 81), Johnson, McCallum.
Unused subs: Taylor, Rogers.
Basingstoke: Moore, Smart, Bird, Rice, Dickie, Ray, Harper, McAuley, Macklin (Cox 61), Flood (Williams 59), Soares (Enver-Marum 59). Unused subs: Jenkinson, Case.
Referee: Robert Hyde.
Bookings: Frankie Raymond (Borough); Rob Rice (Basingstoke)