By Michael Stokoe
Eastbourne United stopped the rot as they played out an entertaining 3-3 draw at home against Loxwood.
Prior to Loxwood visiting the Oval, United had gone seven games without a win in all competitions, but goals from Danny Andrews, Liam Baitup, and Steve Dallaway ensured Tobi Hutchinson’s men got a share of the spoils.
Despite losing their last two games to Chichester City and Crawley Down Gatwick it was United that wanted to lay down a marker in the opening exchanges as they put Loxwood under pressure early on.
The lively Max Hollobone who was playing at no.10 and was the first to test Loxwood’s Harrison Hilfiker in goal, but his twenty yard curling effort was comfortably saved by the Loxwood keeper.
Shortly after Eastbourne’s first chance it was Loxwood that fashioned their first opening of the game as Cecil Jee was put clear through, but Phil Hawkins pulled off a smart stop to deny the visitors the opening goal.
United’s early pressure eventually told just after the 10 minute mark. Baitup picked up the ball on the right, and drilled an inviting ball across the face of goal, and Danny Andrews ghosted in unmarked to prod the ball beyond Hilfiker.
It wasn’t long before the visitors were level; in fact it was 10 minutes after Andrews’s opener. Loxwood drew level through rather fortuitous circumstances as United’s backline stopped expecting a flag for offside, but Matt Daniel was the first to react to United’s lack of movement and he tucked away the chance with aplomb.
Loxwood were coming into the game more and more after their questionable equaliser and on the 24th minute John Dollery put Loxwood ahead after yet more lapse defending by the hosts.
Rhyan Ramsey burst into the box down the right flank and crossed to the back-post where Dollery was unchallenged to volley home for Loxwood.
After going behind United were really struggling to get themselves back in the game, Loxwood were playing the some good stuff and before the half-time whistle United were fortunate not to be further behind as Dollery and Daniel’s spurned good chances for the visitors.
The second-half started with United on the front-foot looking to get back on level terms, and they soon were as Baitup rose highest to nod in a cross at the back-post shortly after the interval.
After drawing level United were in the ascendency and they were pushing for the goal that would take them in-front. And after a period of sustained pressure a superb goal from Dallaway put Hutchinson’s men in the lead.
After taking the lead, Loxwood began to assert a little more pressure in the hope of getting a draw, and as time was running out, a mistake from Peter Featherstone allowed Loxwood substitute Toby House to scramble the ball beyond Phil Hawkins to make it 3-3.
Speaking after the game Hutchison was pleased with the draw, but was still disappointed with the manner of the goals his side conceded, saying: “Although I’m bitterly disappointed at not to got all three points in the end because I think we gifted them all three goals.”
The officials were at the centre of some contentious issues throughout, particularly the first Loxwood goal in which the majority of the Oval thought Daniel was in an offside position before he dispatched the visitor’s first goal.
The United manager had his say: “I thought the officials were atrocious, nothing short of atrocious.”
It might not have been pretty for United, but stopping seven straight losses was essential for Hutchinson, they can now look ahead with some renewed confidence as the Southern Combination league take shape.
Eastbourne United: Hawkins, Denton, Nixon, Hollobone, Davidson, Featherstone, Andrews, Stevens (Dove), Dallaway, Baitup, Hart (Divall)