Frozen Out: Sports Fall to Bitter FA Trophy Defeat
Dorchester grab four goals as Borough freeze in all senses....
Out of the FA Trophy. Eastbourne Borough’s tiniest crowd for several seasons witnessed a shock opportunist victory on Saturday for Dorchester Town, who scored lightning goals on the break and defended with their lives.
There is no arguing with a 4-0 scoreline, and yet home supporters and players alike were at a loss to explain or even believe what they had witnessed. Nobody had seen the result coming: the Sports have been in pretty good form recently, and their Dorset visitors lay in fifteenth place in the Southern Premier, a step below.
But cup competitions often have a dynamic all their own – and the Magpies arrived on the back of scoring ten goals, away from home, in their previous two fixtures. This would be no easy passage to the Trophy’s round of 32.
The other factor was the Arctic weather. In a fierce icy wind and driving sleet, the action bore some resemblance to playing tennis on the deck of a cross-Channel ferry. Constructive football and neat passing moves were never going to win this game. But the Magpies always played the conditions better, and they struck lethal blows at key moments.
Borough boss Jamie Howell was scathing. “I take nothing at all away from Dorchester, who took their chances and fully deserved that scoreline. But my players’ performance today was disgraceful. In front of paying spectators, they should be ashamed.” His players were probably too numb, in mind or body, to respond at the time, but there is evidently a repair job to do.
It was not a great toss to lose, and after an ineffective first half, Borough would find themselves playing into the sleet storm after half-time. They did begin quite brightly, with a half-chance scrambled away in the first minute by the Magpies defence. Then the Sports were almost ahead on 9 minutes, Joel Rollinson speeding clear and finding Adam Liddle, but the striker’s goalbound shot was brilliantly touched on to the crossbar by Kingsley Latham.
But purposeful Dorchester snatched the lead a minute later. Striker Antonio Diaz had already drawn a good low save from Mark Smith, and now they went one better. Kane Wills misplaced his pass across the halfway line, and with the home defence stranded much too high, Tom Blake raced through and planted his shot under Mark Smith from just inside the box.
The home side had openings to equalise. Ryan Hall struck two shots, respectively just wide of the left and right posts. Liddle saw a shot bravely blocked in the goal area and then the nippy Rollison, set free by a pass behind his full-back, was caught between a shot and a squared pass, and managed neither - firing weakly past the far post.
Howell made two half-time substitutions, bringing on strikers Lloyd Dawes and Charlie Walker, but within just 45 seconds of the re-start Dorchester had doubled the lead. An awful kick out by Smith hung in the wind and was snapped up by Diaz for a simple second goal.
The visitors were not full of football, but they had exactly what was needed: a solid no-nonsense back line and a couple of eager front-runners. Borough never made headway against the ferocious elements, and Latham in the Magpies goal did not make a significant save in the second half.
On the hour, Blair struck at the back post from a right-wing cross for 3-0, and then five minutes later the big striker claimed his hat-trick, exchanging passes from half-way and turning the Eastbourne centre-backs inside-out before – quite literally – choosing his spot to shoot into the bottom left corner.
The Sports had a couple of late chances for a scrambled consolation, but on the day, it would have been more than they deserved.
Photo credit: Jamie Evans Photography