Eastbourne Borough slipped to an underwhelming 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night, conceding the crucial goal just after half-time to visitors Hampton and Richmond Borough, and then failing to find a route to goal themselves.
The Sports just cannot win at home right now. This was their fifth home defeat of the season – all by the odd goal – on a night when genuine effort was undermined by bluntness in attack. What is the problem?
“I think opposition teams have learned about us,” said a rueful Danny Bloor after the game. “They are banking up against our talented attackers like Leone Gravata and Shiloh Remy. Once we had slipped behind, we could not find a way through.
“Credit to Hampton and Richmond Borough and their manager Gary McCann, who has built a strong side. They did enough to keep us at bay. We are frustrated but not dispirited. We will be back in on Thursday ahead of the weekend trip to Chelmsford, and then we’ll have two training sessions next week before the next home fixture against Cheshunt.”
The Borough boss had put his finger on the issue. In an uninspiring but quite even game, his team worked hard and were not really second best. The deciding goal came nine minutes into the second half, when a long looping ball from the Hampton left was knocked back at the far post for Alfy Whittingham to drill a low shot from 15 yards, just inside the right hand post.
It was one of few chances on the night for either side, but despite some close calls in the Hampton goalmouth, the Sports could not level up, and the 952 crowd trooped away frustrated from the SO Legal Community Stadium – for the second time in four days.
Bloor restored Alex Wynter to central defence after injury, and gave a midfield start to Simo Mbonkwi, with James Vaughan rested. But the home side were on the back foot in the early minutes as the speedy Beavers pressed forward, and the Sports found themselves chasing the long dark shadows thrown by the Priory Lane floodlights.
By the 20-minute mark it was looking brighter. An early darting run by Shiloh Remy had brought only a routine save for Hampton keeper Joe Walsh, and then Remy combined with Greg Luer to set up Leone Gravata, but Walsh beat the Sports striker to the through ball.
But Hampton had done their homework, crowding out the young Sports strikers and often doubling up on them. And the first half petered out goalless and rather soulless.
After the break, the Sports looked livelier. Luer struck wide of the right post from Simo’s assist, and then Charlie Walker skied a chance way over the Mick Green Stand from Gravata’s incisive run. Hampton responded in kind, and Tommy Wood miskicked from a dangerous right-wing move.
But on Beavers’ next attack, they got it right, and were ahead through Whittingham’s accurate finish. The Sports now had over half an hour to rescue the game – could they create, and finish, their chances?
Yes; and no. Jake Hutchinson, on for Walker, saw his header saved amid a frantic scramble right under the bar. And Kai Innocent powered forward on the left but then shot across the face of goal. Three or four other moves promised much but delivered no end product, and the game finished with a flurry of frantic Eastbourne corners. Worth a point? Yes, probably. But the Sports travel to Chelmsford on Saturday on an unwelcome run of three defeats. Time for cool heads and strong nerves.
Borough: Worgan; Barry, Wynter, Dickenson, Innocent; Hammond, Mbonkwi (Vaughan 72); Remy, Walker (Hutchinson 61), Gravata; Luer. Unused subs: Seymour, Burchell, Perez.
Referee: Alex Blake Att: 952
Borough MoM: Mitch Dickenson