National League South Sat 25 March Hardenhuish Park
Eastbourne Boro

Leading 1-0 through Shiloh Remy’s first-half penalty, Borough were within sight of victory when an assistant referee’s marginal decision gave an equaliser to the home side, for a header which may – or may not – have crossed the line.  

In truth, there had been chances at either end, as the Bluebirds battled to maintain a terrific eleven-game unbeaten run which has taken them from relegation peril to mid-table security.

The longer the journey, the higher Danny’s players rise. Once again, the Sports played with energy and freedom, and again and again they took the game to the home side. It wasn’t  the perfect day for purists, with a buffeting wind and a well-grassed surface impacting the play, but both sides showed bags of pace and energy.

Chippenham front man Ed Williams put an early marker down with a curling 18-yarder that cleared Lee Worgan’s crossbar, and Borough responded with a fine Ryan Bartley through ball that found Luke Pearce, who was only just too high with his angled finish. Then as the play swung end to end, Joe Hanks tested Worgs with a low shot from a recycled corner.

Jamie Yila, freshly signed from Chelmsford City, had made an immediate impact on the left, and just past the half-hour Pearce played him in on the right side of the Chippenham penalty area – where a reckless tackle took Jamie’s feet away for a clear penalty. Shiloh Remy despatched the kick with the confidence and certainty that is now rippling through this Eastbourne side: these players are simply in love with the game.

But the Bluebirds had pace and physical energy in bucketloads – and they briefly thought they had equalised when a looping left-wing corner was bundled in at the back post. But video replays backed up the referee’s judgement that Worgan had been clearly fouled as he caught the high ball, and the goal was rightly chalked off.

The second half began with the same vigour and pace. Yila sped forward on the left and cut in to earn a James Hammond free-kick, clipped into the wall but followed up with a spinning effort from Pearce which the home keeper just clutched at the foot of the post.

Chippenham responded with an Alex Bray strike from a corner that fizzed past the right-hand post, and the home side were still pounding their way forward in search of an equaliser. With the minutes slipping away, they grabbed one – but only with a huge stroke of fortune. A high inswinging cross from the left was met by substitute Joe Parker, whose header pinged the underside of the crossbar and down on to the goal-line…

Technology at National South level doesn’t extend to VAR – only to a club camera up on the halfway-line gantry. But even that evidence showed the ball bouncing down and spinning away – and not remotely crossing the line. Cricketers sometimes speak of being “triggered out” – an umpire’s finger clicking up almost on a reflex. The Chippenham equaliser was pretty clearly “triggered in….”

Let’s add that nobody is writing to FIFA. No-one is conspiring against officials – without them, there would be no game. Maybe next week, the Sports will get the benefit of a tight decision which they don’t deserve. Thankfully our sport is just that – sport, and not open warfare. A point is a point, and the long trundle down the M4 had not been in vain.

Borough: Worgan; Bartley, Burchell, Barry, Yila; Perez, Hammond; Remy, Walker, Gravata; Pearce.    

Borough MoM: Brad Barry