Eastbourne Borough’s bleak midwinter took another disappointing turn on Tuesday night as defeat at lowly Hayes & Yeading extended their winless run to eight league matches.
And travelling Sports fans had more than just the frosty wind and hard earth to moan about at Church Road, as Boro’ turned in a wretched first-half display, conceding twice and giving themselves a mountain to climb.
They were handed a sliver of hope with 13 minutes remaining when Hayes’ Zimbabwean midfielder Bradley Pritchard was dismissed but Nathan Crabb’s strike in the 86th minute came too late.
It was Boro’s first outing since November 20 and they had scarcely managed to take to the training pitch either, as snow and ice hit Sussex.
Boss Garry Wilson said, “A lot of the other teams are full time, we got the players in on Saturday to train, which was the first time we’d trained that week.”
Even Tuesday’s hosts, who only managed to attract a crowd of 190 for the match, have opted to move full time. But their status alone did not earn them the victory.
Wilson added, “I was very disappointed with the performance, we looked very rusty.
“We’ve not played for a couple of weeks but that’s the same as other teams. We were disappointing in the first half, we improved slightly after half-time but it was very disappointing.”
The recent slump has arrived at a similar time to last season, when Boro’ went without a league win between late September and early January.
It’s not panic stations just yet this year, but with tricky trips to Rushden & Diamonds, AFC Wimbledon and Crawley to come over the Christmas period, Wilson and head coach Nick Greenwood know that this dip has come at a dangerous time.
On Tuesday, Boro’ were slow out of the blocks and were punished when Ben Austin felled Pritchard in the area.
Leyton Orient loanee Adrian Patulea converted from the spot to put the hosts in front. Five minutes later the advantage was doubled when Tom Cadmore rose to head home from a corner.
Wilson’s men have battled back before on the road this season, but they couldn’t find a way through until substitute Nathan Crabb fired in from the edge of the area with four minutes remaining.
It was too little too late for the Sports, who are looking anxiously over their shoulders; they now sit just two points clear of the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation places.
Hayes & Yeading: Bulmer, Webb, Cadmore, Wassmer (Deen 36), Green, Pritchard, Montgomery, Holmes, Yiadom, Patulea (Appiah 79), Hyde (Wishart 90).
Sent Off: Pritchard (77). Booked: Pritchard, Green. Goals: Patulea 17 pen, Cadmore 23.
Borough: Banks, Jenkins, Austin, Langston (Smart 72), Pacquette (Nathan Crabb 72), Matt Crabb, Weatherstone (Strevett 73), Brinkhurst, Jenkinson, Partington, Taylor. Subs Not Used: Johnson, Baker.
Booked: Matt Crabb, Smart. Goals: Nathan Crabb 86.
Attendance: 190. Referee: Lee Collins (Surrey).