Eastbourne Borough’s 2024 got off to the worst possible start as they capitulated against Worthing at Priory Lane.
Ollie Pearce’s first half penalty was the difference at half-time, but goals from Nick Wheeler, Ricky Aguiar and Joan Luque saw the Rebels run out 4-0 winners.
The Sports were out to avenge their Boxing Day defeat, but ultimately didn’t do enough in what proved to be Mark Beard’s last game in charge.
Borough ran the changes from the loss at Woodside Road, with Scott Leslie, Archie Procter, Jay Beckford, Louis Collins, Lucas Defise and Michael Olarewaju all coming in to the starting line up.
The away side started on the front foot, with Joel Colbran firing just over before Harrison Foulkes did well to save Michael Klass’ downward header.
And after 17 minutes they were given the chance to go in front when Klass was tripped inside the area by Billy Vigar.
Ollie Pearce stepped up, and the league’s top marksman made no mistake from the spot – drilling the ball beyond Foulkes diving to his right.
The Sports looked to fight back. Leone Gravata looked dangerous down the left, and he cut onto his right foot to cross in and pick out an unmarked Collins, but he could only fire over from close range.
Borough then pressed high up the pitch to win the ball back, and Gravata drove in from the wing but saw his low drive go just wide of the near post.
But despite the hosts’ best efforts, they couldn’t break down the Rebels to narrowly trail going into half-time.
Worthing went close to doubling their lead ten minutes after the break when Wheeler broke down the left and his cross picked out the run of Pearce, but Foulkes got down well to save the striker’s header.
But the Borough keeper couldn’t do anything to prevent the visitors doubling their lead moments later.
Foulkes did well to save Pearce’s initial effort, before a great block denied Odei Sorondo on the rebound. However, the Sports couldn’t get the ball away and it eventually dropped to Wheeler who smashed in from close range.
Borough again tried to get back into the game, with Rocco Rees doing well to tip Sam Beard’s free-kick from out wide over the bar before Gravata’s strike was deflected into the arms of the Worthing keeper.
But the hosts couldn’t prevent their Sussex rivals from adding to their lead with 73 minutes one the clock. Kane Wills burst down the left and he pulled the ball across to Aguiar outside the area, and his first time strike took a deflection on its way past Foulkes.
And Borough’s misery was compounded in stoppage time. Aguiar led a counter attack from a Sports corner and he picked out substitute Luque with a cross and he volleyed into the top corner.