Two corners, two lapses, two goals conceded – and three points had slipped from Eastbourne Borough’s grasp. A 2-1 defeat to visitors Braintree Town was a maddening end to a disappointing afternoon at the Lane.
There is a long, long way to go in this National South season, and everything to play for, but the Sports keep performing like a smooth, swift, attractive motor car with a slow puncture. This was the fourth home defeat – all by the odd goal – and both manager and players know they can and must put it right.
Borough opened brightly and shots from Leone Gravata and returning club captain Charlie Walker tested keeper Niemczycki. But Braintree, an organised and purposeful side, must have been delighted when with ten minutes played, a right wing corner was slotted back across the goalmouth by Baris Altintop for Kyran Clements to turn it into the net from just five yards out.
The home side responded well, and Shiloh Remy saw his tight-angle shot deflected and saved for a corner. Then Mitch Dickenson powered a header against the right-hand post, and an equaliser seemed inevitable. It came on 21 minutes when Shiloh pinged a perfect pass through the Iron back line and Greg Luer, timing his run expertly, raced through to nutmeg the keeper for 1-1.
The 1200-plus crowd in a vibrant SO Legal Community Stadium were loving this, and four minutes later Remy’s brilliant shimmying run and fizzing strike was touched around the far post by Niemcyzcki. This was high-level entertainment from Borough, and Braintree – at this stage – were reeling.
Gravata again sent Luer away, but the striker was shoved off his stride. And a couple more goal attempts were either off-target or else straight into a grateful keeper’s arms. It had been all Borough – but still all square.
The other notable first-half moment was a slap in the face – literally – for Jaden Perez. Referee Harry Wager (and no blame at all attached to him) swung an arm to show the direction of a free-kick – and whacked Jaden in the chops. No permanent damage, thankfully.
Half-time then, and a rather fortunate Braintree side had the chance to regroup, reshape – and change the game. Credit here to Iron manager Angelo Harrop, whose double substitution gave fresh impetus to his team and fresh problems for the Sports. Joseph Boachie shored up midfield, while athletic front man Lamar Reynolds was suddenly giving Borough lots of problems.
Lee Worgan saved Jon Benton’s 30-yard free-kick, before the Sports responded with a swift right-wing move and a ball into Walker from Luer, but the skipper’s attempt was blocked. There was time for his Iron counterpart John White to cop a yellow card – the second in fact, after Altintop, for fouls on the excellent Luer – before Braintree struck again from a corner.
This one, on 55 minutes, was pinged in from the left and flicked on at the near post for Altintop to finish emphatically – once again, from just five yards out. And Braintree, in front for the first time, were not about to give up that lead easily.
Indeed, it was almost 3-1 just on the hour mark when Reynolds powered his way round the back of the home defence, but athletic intervention saw Kai Innocent clear the danger.
Manager Bloor introduced Jake Hutchinson, and later Milly Scarlett, but the nearest they came to equalizing was a powering run through the inside-right channel by Hutch, intercepted before it could reach Luer.
And so the afternoon petered out. Credit to Braintree for their game plan and their opportunism. Deflation and frustration for the Sports – but that need not be despair. They did get a lot of things right – and if they can defend set-pieces properly, they’ll get the right result too…
Borough: Worgan; Vaughan (Scarlett 84), Barry, Dickenson, Innocent; Perez, Hammond; Remy, Walker (Hutchinson 63), Gravata; Luer. Unused subs: Seymour, Wynter, Pinto.
Referee: Harry Wager Att: 1272
Borough MoM: Greg Luer