A LATE 25-yard screamer from top scorer Sam Crabb saved Eastbourne Town from suffering their third consecutive 1-0 defeat.
Town midfielder Scott Kirkwood had missed a penalty before the hosts, reduced to 10-men, took the lead through Paul Williams.
It looked to be heading for another disappointing afternoon for boss Danny Bloor’s men until Crabb’s 91st minute strike, his third of the season, earned Town a well deserved point.
In the first half neither side seemed overly careful in possession and Eastbourne seemed happy to rely on long punts upfield as opposed to the passing game they usually like to adopt.
Sam Crabb was on the end of a quick break but only a good piece of defending from a covering player thwarted the Town striker.
At the other end, Luke Denton produced a great block to foil a home attack.
On 35 minutes, following a well worked passage of play, the lively Crabb had his crisp shot saved by Ceesay in the Walton goal.
A drab first half remained goaless and Town had a lucky escape at the start of the second half as Kieran Thorp palmed Elliott’s cross against Victor Kiri, however, the ricochet flew wide.
On the hour a foul on Matt Geard, on the edge of the Walton box, earned the home centre back a second yellow card and an early bath. From the resulting free kick Fogden won a corner as the visitors looked to up the tempo.
Chuck Martini, the host’s boss, made a double substitution in an attempt to stem the visitor’s growing confidence. Town had another lucky escape following Kessack’s careless throw-in to Dean Brooks. The big stopper was caught in possession but the resulting shot was put over the bar. Denton was replaced by Richard Greenfield on 68 minutes as boss Danny Bloor boosted his attacking options and to capitalise on their man advantage. This move brought immediate benefit, as Greenfield’s speed and close control was proving problematic for the home defenders.
A delightful dinked pass from Greenfield put overlapping full back, Adam Davidson in behind the host’s back line and, as he was hauled down, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Just minutes after having been booked himself, Scott Kirkwood had the chance to put daylight between the two teams but the usually unerring penalty taker was unable to even hit the target with the spot kick.
This was a massive body blow to Town and, as has been the case in recent games, from being in relative control Eastbourne found themselves a goal down just three minutes after Kirkwood’s miss.
Once again, poor defending from set piecess cost Town dear as, from a long throw-in, the ball was headed back from the near post to find Phil Williams unmarked in the six yard box and he gleefully headed home.
Bloor immediately brought on another forward in Jordan Lang, to replace the reliable Davidson, as Town sought an equaliser. Greenfield’s speed again set up a chance but his low cross eluded everyone around the home goal.
However, a minute into the three that were added and the game’s only real piece of quality saw Sam Crabb play a ‘get out of jail free’ card, as his fantastic strike from 25 yards fizzed into the net, leaving Ceesay rooted to the spot.
It was one of those shots that was in as soon as it was dispatched. Bloor and his bench, along with all visiting players celebrated the hard earned point.
Town were in action last night at the Saffrons against Faversham. See Friday’s Herald for report pictures and reaction.
Boss Bloor said, “It was a well deserved point and on balance a fair result.
“To miss a penalty was a blow and if that had gone in we would have gone on to win the game.
“But overall an away point in this league is decent and we have to be happy that.
“The lads kept going to the end and Sam’s goal was a great strike.”
Town: Thorp 7, Davidson 7 (Lang), Kessack 6, Brooks 7, Fogden (c) 7, May 6, Kirkwood 6, S Crabb 8, Curd 6, Denton 6 (Greenfield), Geard 6.
Yellow cards: Brooks, May and Kirkwood
MoM: Sam Crabb - super strike for the goal