Manager Ryan Cooper says that Eastbourne United are finally starting to look like a proper football club as he prepares to take his side to National League South outfit Eastbourne Borough in the second-round of the Sussex Senior Cup on Tuesday evening.
United, who play their football three leagues below in the Southern Combination Premier, have endured a difficult start to the season and are still winless in the league after a 1-2 loss at home to Shoreham this past Saturday.
Two goals in nine first-half minutes gave Shoreham a nice advantage at the break and United were unable to find an equaliser despite Sam Willet’s penalty ten minutes into the second-half.
“Despite the fact we lost, it was probably the step forward that we needed,” insisted Cooper
“We played really well in patches and got unlucky with a few decisions like the penalty for their first goal. I was really pleased with the attitude and the application the lads showed and their second goal was just a really good finish. It was tough to take because I don’t think they got out of their half in the second half, but we just couldn’t capitalise and take enough of the chances that we created.
“A month ago, we probably would have lost that game 5-1 rather than 2-1 so we are making improvements but that is another game gone now so it has to be on to the next one.”
However, perhaps thanks to some favourable draws against lower-league opposition, United have enjoyed more success in the cup competitions this year and so it proved again this past Tuesday evening when they ran out 5-2 winners at home to Division One outfit Midhurst & Easebourne. Recent signings Alberto Lubango and Casey Ham bagged a brace and a hat-trick respectively.
“Tuesday night was a really good performance,” explained Cooper.
“We had a lot of players cup tied and a couple of injuries and suspensions so it as a really pleasing night for me because things fell for us where perhaps they didn’t on Saturday and we scored five really good goals.
“I’m really pleased with the players we have brought in like Dan Rogers and Sam Willet because they’re players who have a lot of pedigree in this league. We are still looking for one or two more, but I really think that Saturday was a real indication that we are not too far off. That team we had out on Saturday showed me that they are capable of winning more games than they lose. Our season started on Saturday for me performance wise and with the squad that I am happy to move forward with. That was the benchmark of where we’re going to be from now on.
“Now we are starting to look like a proper football squad. There will now be three or four players who aren’t lucky enough to be in the squad and play in the under 23’s instead and hopefully perform well and get in the squad the following week. We’re going to be able to run it like a proper football club now which is nice.
“Tuesday will be a great fixture. It is against a local side at a nice stadium. For us it is a win-win because nobody will be expecting us to go there and beat Borough but if we can go there and express ourselves I’ll be happy. They are a really good side, I know their manager Jamie Howell really well and he has done a great job there in terms of the squad he has built.”