A battling Eastbourne Borough performance, capped off by Yemi Odubade’s opportunist strike, claimed three priceless National South points with a 1-0 victory at Bath City on Tuesday night (writes Kevin Anderson).
On what may prove one of the turning points of the season, the Sports dug very deep, shook off the disappointment and self-doubts of their two previous games – both home defeats – and played with spirit and discipline, to prise themselves nine points clear of the relegation places.
Jamie Howell tweaked his line-up only slightly, starting with Jamie Taylor on the right in place of Charlie Harris.
The Romans began at pace, launching long balls at Borough down the Twerton Park slope, and Opi Edwards might have given them an 8th minute lead, slicing his shot over the bar at the end of a swift right-wing move.
The Sports responded with a direct free-kick from a tasty position on the edge of the D, but Odubade lofted his shot high into the sprawling terraces behind the goal at this grand old football ground.
Then Jack Compton’s dangerous run was stopped by an accomplished intervention from Harry Ransom – the eighteen-year-old once again forming a majestic partnership with James Haran at centre-back. And as Bath’s early energy petered out, it was the Sports who took control.
But Borough were tightening the tourniquet and on 35 minutes, from Wills’ long free-kick, Ransom conjured a shot on the turn which spun across goal, hit the post and was scrambled clear.
Goalless at the break, then, and closing in on a useful point. But the Sports wanted more, and down the slope in the second half, they now looked dominant, and on the hour they grabbed the lead.
Taylor’s clipped ball over the top turned the Bath defence, and as defender Jack Batten and keeper Luke Southwood dallied, Yemi zipped in and stroked his shot into a gaping net from the edge of the box.
Despite the eager but rather blunt home pressure, the best chances fell to the Sports, and they should have made the game safe with two McCallum efforts, both saved, a galloping Dawes burst, and a late Wills blazer that fizzed high into the night sky.
Substitute Antoine Semenyo, on loan from Bristol City, re-ignited the home forward line, but Haran superbly blocked his best goal attempt, and then deep into stoppage time Mark Smith fell on a final Tom Smith strike, clutching it gratefully and defiantly. This was Borough’s night.
Borough: Smith; Pickering, Haran, Ransom, Edwards; Taylor (Harris 63), Wills, Torres, McCallum; Dawes (Simpemba 89), Odubade (Okojie 66). Unused subs: Khinda-John, Pearson.
Referee: a very competent Marc Whaley Attendance: a shivering 401
Borough MoM: Kane Wills – strong and combative