There was little festive cheer for Eastbourne Borough as Sussex rivals Worthing consigned them to a 3-0 defeat at Sussex Transport Community Stadium.
The Sports had been the better team for large parts of the first half, but heads dropped after Joe Rye’s goal ten minutes before the break.
Joe Felix then made it 2-0, with Ricky Aguiar’s effort five minutes after half-time completing the win for the hosts.
Mark Beard made three changes from the team that slipped to a narrow defeat against Yeovil three days earlier. Fletcher Holman came in for Louis Collins, whilst Decarrey Sheriff came back into the starting line up to replace Scott Leslie. Borough’s preparations were dealt a setback when Michael Olarewaju had to drop out, and his replacement Freddie Carter pulled up injured in the warm up – leaving Dan Quick to fill in at centre-back.
Borough started brightly in front of a bumper crowd for this Boxing Day derby, but it was Worthing who had the first sight of goal five minutes in when Aguiar was given space 25 yards out to have a shot, but Harrison Foulkes did well to get down and turn the ball around the post.
It was the Sports’ turn to then go on the offensive, and after winning a header from a throw the ball fell kindly to Billy Vigar from range. He took it on the volley but only a fingertip save from Rocco Rees denied him.
Brad Barry then took a quick free-kick to release Sam Beard down the left. His low ball in picked out Vigar, but his first time strike was touched over the bar by the diving keeper.
After heading the resulting corner just wide, Barry then picked out Jack Paxman with a fine cross-field ball. The playmaker beat Odei Sorondo, but couldn’t squeeze his shot past Rees at his near post.
However, the Sports were made to pay for not taking their chances as they fell a goal down on 35 minutes. A corner swung to the far post by Aguiar wasn’t cleared by the Borough defence, and Rye reacted quickest to shoot low beyond Foulkes.
The hosts then pressed on, looking to double their lead and they did just that before half-time. Ollie Pearce’s ball over the top should have been dealt with, but wasn’t and Felix pounced to race clear and one on one with Foulkes he slotted home.
The Sports made a double change at the break, with Imran Uche and Louis Collins coming on but that didn’t halt Borough’s slide.
Pearce spun away from a defender inside the area and his low ball across was met by a poor clearance, and it fell to Aguiar twelve yards out who fired home to make it 3-0.
Things then got even worse for the Sports when skipper Barry was forced off with a groin injury midway through the second half.
Danny Cashman could have made it four for the hosts but fired wide when well placed, before Uche had a shot deflected just over at the other end after Paxman’s drive into the area was halted by a good tackle.
Borough’s fortune in front of goal was summed up as the clock hit 90. Uche did well to find Leone Gravata, who turned his way past two Worthing defenders. His shot wit the outside of his right foot was beaten away by Rees, but only as far as Holman – however Felix was on the line to block his follow up.
2023 ends just how it started for the Sports – in defeat. With not long to rest until the return fixture on New Year’s Day, Borough will be looking to bounce back.