National League South Sat 25 February The Stadium Cheshunt
Eastbourne Boro

With a brisk northerly breeze at their backs, the Sports opened strongly, dominating territory and possession. With home keeper DesBois stranded outside his area, Shiloh Remy tried a daring high cross-shot, but the wind lifted it just over the crossbar.  And a Milly Scarlett cross fizzed across the goalmouth with nobody getting a touch. Then Charlie Walker was clear on goal after robbing centre-back McKenzie, but the defender’s dramatic tumble convinced referee Mr Farmer to penalise the Borough skipper for a foul.  

In the first fifteen minutes, Lee Worgan had touched the ball just three times – one goal kick and two back-passes. And the next half-hour through to half-time was not very different: an afternoon surely requiring a rule change – thermos flasks for goalkeepers as standard equipment…

Cheshunt had seldom strung two passes together in this first quarter, but as the first half wore on, Craig Edwards’ side – aware, no doubt, that the second-half wind would be at their backs – were in no hurry to keep the pace going. Three Cheshunt injuries alone had taken up more than seven minutes.

So, with half-time approaching, there was truthfully not much to get excited about. Borough players, used to the noisy and lively atmosphere of a four-figure Priory Lane crowd, found themselves in a vacant space where the wind in the cameraman’s microphone made more noise that the 402 spectators. 

Ten minutes before the break, the Ambers won two corners, and from the second Shiloh broke away but was cannily impeded by a defender, unpunished by Mr Farmer. Cheshunt players, on the other hand, appeared to be going instantly to ground under challenge and winning free-kicks.

A speedy break down the left saw Gravata swing over a dangerous cross, met by Remy with an acrobatic volley that flew too high. And half-time arrived goalless.

Second half? Rinse and repeat, really. The Ambers now had the gale at their backs and their pounding physical approach did not change – but into the wind, Borough found it tough to make any progress upfield. A couple of Cheshunt free-kicks, from dangerous positions, were well defended, and from one home corner Remy made a lightning break but was outnumbered and brought down.

And so the second half thudded on: blunt attacks, spoiling fouls, injury stoppages, ball in and out of play. Not even a stray dog on the pitch to add a bit of entertainment. Despite their territorial pressure, Cheshunt had rarely produced a threat to the Eastbourne goal, and the final whistle was getting ever nearer – when…

83 minutes: high on the Cheshunt left, a throw-in – ironically created only because the wind caught Scarlett’s attempted clearance. Both giant centre-backs up for the long throw. One bounce, two attempted headers, one deflection off a hip, and suddenly substitute Josh Popoola finds himself popping the loose ball past Worgan from five yards.   

One-nil then, and no way back for the Borough. There was time for Ken Charles to earn a red card for a scything tackle of Jaden Perez: the final action of an afternoon when the Beautiful Game was anything but beautiful.  

More than Cheshunt deserved? It was more than the match deserved, really. The home side were desperate for points for survival, and it showed. The Sports remain in comfortable mid-table, and they will regroup and rediscover their proper form.

Borough: Worgan; Scarlett, Barry, Dickenson, Innocent; Kastrati, Bendle; Remy (Perez 60), Walker, Gravata; Pearce (Wabo 80).  Unused subs: Holter, Beckford, Bartley.

Referee: Mr A Farmer     Att: 402

Borough Player of the Match: Brad Barry – an encouraging return for the Sports defender