Sports Ease Through in Senior Cup
A worthy performance from United, but the Borough goal machine knocks in five...
The Sussex Senior Cup ran exactly true to form at Priory Lane on Tuesday night, where Eastbourne Borough ran out comfortable 5-0 winners over an Eastbourne United side who gave everything from first minute to last.
No upset, no surprises, not even a wobble. The home side did take 20 minutes or more to break through, but then their finishing was ruthless. United played with spirit and with excellent organisation, but they lacked a cutting edge – and Borough were sharp as a knife.
Jamie Howell did his Southern Combination opponents the justice of fielding a virtually full-strength side, resting Kane Wills and Tom Gardiner. His counterpart Ryan Cooper set up with essentially a back five, and looked to the zippy pace of front-runners Lubango and Joel Kalambai to hit Borough on the break.
Ryan, an impressive figure on the touchline, who never flagged with constructive advice to his players, has been building a promising squad. They will take encouragement from the 90 minutes, and their first league victory may not be far away.
The home side thought they had claimed a ninth-minute lead when Charlie Walker turned in Dean Cox’s corner, but the effort was ruled out on a slightly baffling offside decision. Leigh Crowhurst gave the goal before – belatedly – having his attention drawn to his assistant David Joseph, who shook his admirable dreadlocks and judged that another Borough player had blocked the keeper’s sightlines. Not so much famous for fifteen minutes as infamous for fifteen seconds, David saw his decision upheld and it stayed at 0-0. And in keeping with the cordial nature of the night, there were smiles all round (although Jamie’s came through slightly gritted teeth!).
But 12 minutes later Mike West, from nearly thirty yards, left nobody in any doubt with a fabulous strike, dipping across the keeper into the far corner. Westy’s appearances tend to be briefer cameos off the bench, but his full ninety minutes on Tuesday were hallmarked with class.
United keeper Matt Dann, brave and agile, kept the Sports at bay with three fine saves, including one from a sublime overhead kick from Yemi Odubade, whose perpetual-motion energy had the United defence spinning all ways at once. But on 29 minutes the effervescent Walker beat Dann from outside the box with a rocket that cannoned down from a shuddering crossbar and spun away, after possibly crossing the line. Wembley 1966: Russian linesman gives dubious goal. Priory Lane 2018: celebrity lino David gives no goal – and without VAR, you couldn’t argue with that. Fair call, David.
United rode their luck for a while until, five minutes before the break, Andrew Briggs doubled the lead, with a decisive finish to a dazzling move between Yemi Odubade and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling. Tobi and his laterally-opposite number Kris Campbell were now making hay down the flanks, with relatively few defensive duties and ample chance to show their creative skills. And the best compliment you could give to the composed and intelligent Mr Briggs is that Mr Wills wasn’t missed. Unless you are the Wills family, of course….
United were just about still in the tie, but the first phase of the second half put it beyond doubt. On 51 minutes Cox hit a direct free-kick throught the wall for 3-0, and five minutes later Harry Ransom towered above defenders to head home a right-wing cross. Ransom had just taken the armband from the substituted Sergio Torres, to become at 19 the youngest player ever to captain the Sports.
A trio of substitutions, in fact, saw three sixteen-year-olds introduced for Borough: the startlingly lively Brad Santos on the wing, a dependable Dan Blackmore at centre-back and finally James Earl in goal. Three for the future, but for United it was a matter of hanging on in the here and now. Despite their legs getting heavier in a high-paced game, they never imploded, and indeed there were two late chances for Lubango, racing through to plant one shot too high and see the other smartly saved by Earl.
Walker rounded off the 5-0 with a nippy and slightly impertinent finish at the front post from Cox’s free-kick, and Borough progressed confidently to the Third Round. No disgrace for United, and an enjoyable night under the Priory Lane lights.
Borough: Smith (Earl 71); Adebayo-Rowling, Ransom, Pollard, Campbell; Cox (Santos 65), Briggs, Torres (Blackmore 57), Hall; Walker, Odubade.
United: Dann, Dale Penn, Radley, Willett, Rogers, Jones, Lubango, Kane Penn, Ham (Curran 58), Kalambai, Ducatel (Harris 89)
Referee: Leigh Crowhurst – cool and low-profile
Assistants: David Joseph and Martyn Milligan
Att: 179 on a mild November night, with a smattering of friendly faces from the Oval
Borough MoM: tough call, but an assured Harry Pollard nicks it, on the votes of three wise men who prefer to remain anonymous. But their real names are Overton, Wilson and Crabb. (And if you get the endorsement of those three gentlemen, you must have played bloomin’ well!)