National League South Sat 8 October SO Legal Community Stadium
Eastbourne Boro

Danny’s engaging, perpetual-motion team have a few faults. Unless you’re Manchester City, you are likely to misplace the occasional pass or mistime a run. But the plus points come in bundles: high energy, inventive movement, even the readiness to take a risk or two. And goals, goals, goals at the SO Legal Community Stadium.

Look at the National South table following last Saturday’s results. Only the top two – Ebbsfleet and Havant – have scored more goals than the Sports. And only the bottom two, Weymouth and Cheshunt, have conceded more. Not that Bloor and his staff plan it that way, but ask your average Priory Lane spectator and you’ll not hear too many complaints.

Saturday’s encounter was no different. The Terras scored once, early in the game, and in truth they might have doubled their lead in the half hour before Borough equalised. But the home side struck five, and it genuinely could have been eight or nine. This was front-foot stuff, exuberantly played out in front of a cheerful home crowd in blinding Sussex sunshine. If this be National South, give me excess of it, as the Bard (almost) wrote.

Huge credit, too, to the thirty-five Weymouth loyalists who braved the 150 miles each way, to cheer on their team. Winless all season in the league, the Dorset side recently changed managers, and man-motivator Bobby Wilkinson will surely turn things round. But on Saturday their supporters had to dig deep – and fully deserved their warm round of applause from the Priory Lane crowd on the hour mark.

With Alex Wynter and Chris Whelpdale progressing but not ready for match action, Bloor only slightly tweaked the starting eleven who had stood the Worthing FA Cup test so impressively. Jake Hutchinson led the attack with Greg Luer moving into the 10 slot, and Jaden Perez partnered James Hammond in midfield.

The Sports opened strongly, winning three corners in as many minutes, but the SO Legal Community Stadium was silenced – apart from those Terras – when Harry Kyprianou took a return pass in the D, veered to his left and then drilled a shot under the defender’s foot and past Lee Worgan’s left hand into the corner of the net.

Wrong-footed in every sense, Borough had to start again. But in this coastal derby, it was certainly not plain sailing. For thirty-three minutes, a buffeted Weymouth defence would cling on to their lead. In a frantic spell around the twenty-minute mark, the Sports came close with a string of chances: a Leone Gravata shot from a corner, deflected by his own player, then Hutchinson miskicking with the goal yawning; then Zaki Dualah racing out to deny Hutch; and Luer again frustrated by the keeper at the expense of a corner, from Dickenson’s magnificent long ball.

Would you like any more? Oh, very well. Brad Barry – another commanding performance from him, even though he nodded Hammo’s wicked curling cross just wide; and a couple of storming runs from Gravata. Still 0-1, though, and manager Bloor must have been tearing his hair out – if only…

All this time, Weymouth were still ahead – and almost doubling the lead through Akheem Rose, who cut in from the left but saw his shot assuredly saved by Worgs. For the Sports, it was about persistence and patience. There are some players who play so well that you scarcely notice: Hammond intercepting, prompting, turning defence into attack. Luer, ghosting into great positions and impossible to mark. The full-backs Vaughan and Innocent always alert.

38 minutes, and the persistence brought a goal. Shiloh Remy’s electric run and cross earned a corner, swung in by Hammond and slid across the goalmouth by Barry for Hutchinson to smack it into the net.

Within two minutes Borough were ahead. In a lightning break from a Weymouth corner, Gravata raced down the right touchline and perfectly played Remy into the box. And the winger’s low cross was turned in by Hammond for 2-1: just 15 seconds from the clearance to the finish.

Then deep into stoppage time, an exquisite third. Starting with a Greg Luer steal on half-way and flowing through Gravata, Luer again, and then Jaden Perez, it finished with Shiloh’s emphatic strike. That’s what you call a team goal – and what a terrific impact Perez is making in these recent games. Dependable and versatile, yes – but also with a smart touch and an eye for the openings.

For the visitors, it had been a calamitous few minutes, and they never recovered. The second half brought only a change of ends and not of fortunes. The Sports controlled the ball, the pace of play, and the outcomes.

Right from the restart, a swift attacking move sliced Weymouth open and Hutch was only just wide with the finish. The unplayable Gravata, twisting and turning, combined with Remy but move was cut short by an offside flag. And Vaughan, stealing in to meet Hammond’s free-kick, was foiled by Dualah’s narrow-angle save.

On the hour, Tom Bearwish copped the only yellow card of the day – and a very competent Lewis Sandoe enjoyed an assured afternoon on the whistle. In welcome contrast to one or two stormier recent matches, there was respect all round – between players, management and indeed supporters. Non-league as it should be…

But the cordiality didn’t stop Gravata from extending the lead on 66 minutes with a breathtaking top-corner strike, nor Kai Innocent from smoothly slotting home a fifth after safe-breaker Luer opened up the Weymouth defence.

The warrior figure of Dickenson was forced from the fray, head bloodied, after an accidental clash; but the actual damage is reportedly less serious than it looked.
No further goals, and credit to the Terras for battling to the end. Borough move on to an intriguing FA Cup date with Maidenhead United. That one could go either way, and all results are possible – except, perhaps, a goalless draw…

Borough: Worgan; Vaughan, Barry, Dickenson (Scarlett 65), Innocent; Perez, Hammond; Remy (Mbonkwi 89), Luer, Gravata; Hutchinson (Walker 68). Unused subs: Seymour, Pinto.
Referee: Lewis Sandoe
Borough MoM: James Hammond Att: 1048