Eastbourne Borough suffered their second defeat of the season despite having to face only 10 men for 80 minutes of Saturday’s absorbing struggle with Slough Town.
Jamie Howell’s men received an unexpected bonus in the 10th minute when Slough skipper Mark Nisbet was shown a red card for illegally denying Charlie Walker a goal-scoring chance as the striker broke clear of the Borough defence. You can see Howell's post match reaction below (video by GBatMedia)
But expectation swiftly turned to humiliation as The Sports amazingly found themselves three down in little more than half an hour.
In fairness to Borough, however, a question mark surrounded all three goals, the first two having a strong suspicion of offside about them and the third a highly controversial penalty for a foul the linesman insisted was actually inside the area.
If ever VAR was needed, it was at Priory Lane on Saturday.
Just six minutes after the sending-off, Slough broke away on the left and James Dobson’s cross was comfortably converted by Matt Stevens.
Four minutes later an identical move ended with Stevens heading home another Dobson cross.
Ten-men Slough were in dreamland in the 31st minute when Dave Martin upended Ben Harris, a flag-waving ref’s assistant decided the foul was inside the area and Borough were three down as James Dobson coolly converted the spot kick.
It was all too much for furious Borough boss Howell who continued his heated protests for far too long and was sent to the stand.
But at last came a glimmer of hope for the hosts as Martin’s cross was headed home by Walker just a minute before the interval.
Borough came out in the second half with all guns blazing knowing that another goal would put them right back in the game.
Every man except the keeper was in the Slough half as the Rebels defended with desperation and made the most of every stoppage.
But in the 63rd minute, the unbelievable happened as Stevens broke clear to calmly side-foot past keeper Mark Smith and complete his hat-trick for a 4-1 scoreline.
To their credit Borough continued to keep plugging away and Dean Cox had time to pick his spot from Marvin Hamilton’s cross for a final score-line of 4-2.
There was still more drama to come as Walker’s spectacular overhead effort crashed against the bar, Kris Campbell headed inches over and Cox’s ferocious drive was beaten away by Jack Turner.
Visiting keeper Turner, at times appearing to be auditioning for an Oscar, was cautioned for time-wasting and was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card as he continued to take an age with his goal-kicks.
And when the keeper went down, supposedly injured and in agony, there were more jeers from the Borough fans who were becoming increasingly frustrated by the go-slow Slough tactics.
As one wag shouted, “Don’t worry, it’s almost the panto season.”
How right he was!
Eastbourne: Smith, Hamilton, Campbell, Wills, Pollard (West 58), Gardiner, Cox, Torres, Walker, Odubade, Martin (Hall 72). Unused subs: Day, Briggs, Shaw.
Slough: Turner, Jackman, Wells, Hollis, Nisbet, Lee Togwell (Fraser 84), Dobson, Sam Togwell, Harris (Davies 70), Stevens (Flood 72), Harris.
Referee: Dean Skipper.
MoM: Sergio Torres: maintained non-stop work rate even when things were going wrong.