Promotion hopes dented by Midhurst home defeat

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Eastbourne United AFC succumbed to only their second home league defeat of the season after a defeat at the hands of Midhurst & Easebourne.

The visitors came into the match in a rich vein of form that had seen them climb the league table after five consecutive victories, but found themselves chasing the game from the start as United aimed to carry on where they left off against Saltdean United.

With ten minutes played, Nick Barden ghosted in from the left and saw his glancing header go inches past the post, but from the resulting goal-kick, a mistake in the Midhurst defence allowed Liam Baitup in to lift the ball over visiting ‘keeper Ian Knight and give United a deserved lead.

United never let Midhurst settle, consistently pressing and playing at a high tempo during a first half display that saw Pete Cooper also go close with a glancing header.

With 40 minutes played Baitup thought he had doubled United’s lead, but the top scorer in SCFL Division Two had his effort ruled out for offside.

With seconds left on the watch in the first half Baitup pounced on a weak backpass by Kevin White and forced Knight into a good save, but strike partner Cooper was on hand to fire home the rebound as United appeared to be going into half-time with a two-goal advantage.

But Midhurst had other ideas as Rob Wimble found space behind Barden to play in James Glue who squared for Gary Norgate to place the ball home despite calls for offside from the United defence.

The second half started badly for United as a Midhurst cross was only half cleared by skipper Pete Featherstone to the feet of Lewis Hamilton who volleyed the ball past a helpless Adam Sargent to draw the scores level.

Adam Davidson was brought on for his United debut with just over thirty minutes to play, but was helpless to prevent Midhurst from scoring a third goal.

A through ball from Wimble found Matt Collino whose pace split Featherstone and Calum Sherriff and the striker placed the ball past Sargent to complete a turnaround for the visitors.

Despite being a goal down, United failed to force Knight into making one save of any note in the second half and must start producing more if they are to achieve promotion to Division One, beginning on Tuesday night against Westfield at The Oval.