Eastbourne Borough Women put on a brave performance, but ultimately were made to pay for mistakes against Saltdean United.
Having lost 7-0 to the same opposition just a month earlier in the Sussex FA Women’s Trophy, the Sports put on a better showing as Billy Wood continues to build his new-look squad at Priory Lane.
Kellie Larkin – one of two debutants for the Sports – scored from the penalty spot after Borough went into the break 2-0 down.
But chasing the game, the Sports were undone as Saltdean added a third to seal all three points.
Borough – who are still searching for their first Sussex County Women & Girls Football League Premier victory – started brightly against a team who arrived with a 100% record.
Wood was able to call upon two of his three new faces – Larkin and Charlotte Gurr – and the pair combined to almost put their new team in front after seven minutes.
Larkin fired in a cross from the right but the outstretched Gurr couldn’t get enough on her shot to turn it goalwards. Larkin then played in Phoebe Cram down the right, but Liv Reed got down well in the Saltdean goal to save at her near post.
But as time wore on, the visitors grew into the game. Dani Jacobs fired wide when well placed, before Borough keeper Sophia Moule was called into action when she saved well from Maya Pritchard – the first of many great saves from Borough’s Player of the Match.
Erin Todd then had a shot blocked by a United defender. The loose ball fell to Gurr, but her drive was straight at Reed.
Back came Saltdean, though, as Lola Harris fired a shot into the side netting before they broke the deadlock four minutes before half-time.
Billie Phillpot was given too much space on the edge of the area and her strike found the top corner despite the best efforts of Moule.
And Saltdean added a second before half-time. Jacobs was sent through on goal and one on one with Moule slotted beyond the reach of the advancing keeper.
Borough looked for a response after the break, but had Moule to thank for keeping the score at 2-0.
Pritchard broke down the left hand side and cut in on goal, only to be denied by the young Borough keeper.
Moule then made a terrific double save. After losing the ball in a dangerous area, the keeper first denied Jacobs before Lily Dannreuther was then kept out with the rebound.
Jacobs then forced Moule into another good save, before the Sports were handed a lifeline. Cram was taken down inside the area and Borough were awarded a penalty.
Larkin stepped up, and on her debut fired away from Reed to make it 2-1 midway through the second half.
The game could’ve swung either way at this stage, with Gurr unable to get enough on a shot to trouble Reed as Borough searched for the equaliser.
Moule was at it again late on, saving well from Grace Wellcome when one on one, before the visitors eventually wrapped up the points when Harris lobbed the ball over Moule with three minutes to go.