National League South Mon 26 December Westleigh Park
Havant & Waterlooville
Eastbourne Boro

This is getting to be a habit. Eastbourne Borough headed across the A27 on Boxing Day and brought home the bacon yet again, lowering the colours of Havant and Waterlooville with a terrific 2-1 victory. Goals early and late, from Jake Hutchinson and Jaden Perez, sealed the points.

And so the Borough road show rolls on. In seven away games through November and December, the Sports notched up five wins, a draw, and just the single blip of a defeat at Tonbridge. Danny’s team have the formula of gritty defence when it matters, and lethal strikes at the key moments.

Danny spoke afterwards with pride. “Our boys had passion and commitment and dedication to the cause. They were a credit to the club! We might not have the biggest budget but what our boys have is heart. We fully expect a tough return game on New Year’s Day, but results like these last two away wins, against clubs as strong as Havant and Ebbsfleet United, that speaks volumes.”

Hawks boss Paul Doswell gave credit to Borough’s organised defending and to their lethal pace on the break – while noting that the visitors scored twice from two shots on target. “Credit to Eastbourne but these were fine margins. It was a pretty even game really, and we absolutely bombarded their box in the last ten minutes. It’s a long season and you can’t get too high or too low!”

The Sports stunned Havant with a goal after just three minutes. Jake Hutchinson did exactly what he does, getting on the end of Shiloh Remy’s superb cross to knock it past the keeper. Hawks responded with a fierce shot from Jason Prior but Lee Worgan matched it with a brilliant save.

The home side were pressing territorially but could find no way through until, from their first corner of the game on 23 minutes, the ball was not cleared and Joe Oastler popped it in at the back post. And so the game stayed level, in a first half punctuated by a crunching yellow-card challenge on Milly Scarlett, a sweet Eastbourne move that saw Chris Whelpdale shoot just too high, and a fine stoppage-time save by Worgan to preserve the 1-1.

After the break, Hawks had more of the ball and the territory, but this Eastbourne Borough side knows how to defend: organised and unafraid. And when they did move upfield, the outstanding Leone Gravata – with Hutch and Shiloh – looked lethal every time.

With twenty minutes left, Hutch was replaced by Greg Luer – whose finish was only just over the bar from Scarlett’s centre. And then, approaching the 80 minute mark, the Scarlett-Remy demon duo created a corner to Borough…

…Corner swung in. Cleared but only to James Vaughan. Slipped through to Jaden Perez. Drilled in through a crowded box. And G-O-AA-LLLL !! It only lacked the South American commentator…

2-1 and ten minutes for Havant to rescue the game. They gave it everything, but the Sports dug deep – even threatening a third goal on the break, with Luer drawing a breathtaking save from the home keeper. Jack Burchell – what an inspired signing – and skipper Mitch Dickenson were heroic in central defence, and Borough saw out those final minutes for a superb win.

And these two rivals will do it all over again on Sunday!

Borough: Worgan; Scarlett, Burchell, Dickenson, Innocent; Vaughan, Perez; Remy, Whelpdale, Gravata; Hutchinson. Subs: Luer for Hutchinson 80m, Walker for Whelpdale 82m, Barry for Remy 93m. Unused subs: Bull, Holter.
Referee: Steve Hughes Att: 964
Borough MoM: Leone Gravata