Eastbourne Borough returned to winning ways after a battling win over in-form Braintree Town.

Billy Vigar got the Sports off to the perfect start at Priory Lane, only for Tom Blackwell to draw the visitors level after 20 minutes.

However, Mark Beard’s side went into half-time in front courtesy of Fletcher Holman, before Leone Gravata completed the 3-1 win to give Borough three big points.

Injuries again took their toll on Borough’s team selection, with just four substitutes named and George Brown making his first start for the club at centre-back. There was positive news, however, with Michael Olarewaju and Callum Kealy both returning to the starting line up after spells on the sideline through injury.

After back-to-back defeats on the road, Borough needed a quick start. And they produced just that – going in front within 70 seconds. Decarrey Sheriff found space on the left and his ball in picked out the run of Billy Vigar whose glancing header picked out the far corner.

Braintree looked for a response, and Ben Dudzinski did well to turn Blackwell’s effort around his near post after the winger found a yard of space on the left.

However, a mistake from Borough’s goalscorer allowed Braintree back in the game. Vigar chested the ball back but only to Shaquile Coulthirst, who broke through on goal before shifting it across to Blackwell who tapped in.

The first half was a tight affair after the early exchanges, with Josh Blunkell saving well from Leone Gravata after good work from Jack Clarke, before the Sports regained their advantage in first half stoppage time.

Clarke clipped the ball in from the right and Ben Tompkins made a mess of his clearance, allowing Holman to run on and fire past the stranded keeper for his fourth goal in the six games.

Holman went close to adding a third ten minutes into the second half when Clarke found Sheriff on the right. He got himself a yard of space against Leon Davies and picked out the Borough forward with a low ball in but his drive was deflected just wide.

Kealy, who impressed up front on his first appearance since his debut on October 7, and Clarke were withdrawn in a bid to manage minutes, but that didn’t stop the Sports staying on the front foot.

The imposing Olarewaju won the ball back high up the pitch and the ball fell to Holman, but his left-footed effort went just wide of the post.

Sheriff then flicked Gravata’s free-kick in from the left across goal, but no one could turn the ball in before the visitors almost drew level with 15 minutes to go.

A throw in down the left was headed in-field and Shaquile Coulthirst took the ball on the volley as he turned, and his swerving effort from 25 yards went just wide of the top corner.

A great block from Olarewaju denied Gianni Crichlow from getting a ball into the box, before the Sports gave themselves breathing space with ten minutes to go.

Borough pressed high and a loose pass allowed Gravata to bare down on goal, and he made no mistake to make it 3-1.

The visitors went close to halving the deficit late on when Alfie Payne fired a low ball across to substitute Marvin Herschel, but he could only hit the post when well placed before Borough should have made it 4-1 in the last minute.

Gravata broke forward from midfield and found Sheriff in space on the left. Baring down on goal, he shifted the ball across to Holman but with the goal gaping he couldn’t hit the target.

But that miss didn’t prove costly as the Sports made a welcome return to winning ways ahead of a busy National League South schedule in the coming weeks.