Four-goal Sports in Bank Holiday spree
Another goal cascade at the Lane sees off brave East Thurrock
We might have known. Back at the Lane after two away defeats and eight goals conceded, Eastbourne Borough resumed normal service with a shimmering display and a 4-0 demolition of East Thurrock United on Easter Monday.
The visitors had started brightly and enjoyed a couple of spells of rather blunt pressure, but in the end they were lucky to get nil. East Thurrock’s first season at this level has been admirable, and they are worth their solid mid-table position, but on the day they were sluggish and looked bewildered by Borough’s movement and pace.
Hugo Langton restored Nat Pinney and Bouwe Bosma to the line-up which had lost 4-1 at Ebbsfleet, and rested Ian Simpemba – who was also given a notable new role, bringing his unmatched experience very actively to the technical area - an "extra skipper from the touchline", as Langton later described him. Onfield, Khinda-John and Hobson were decisive and intelligent pair of centre-backs, while top club servant Craig Stone efficiently filled the problem left-back slot.
For Eastbourne, there were sparkling performances throughout the team, from a commanding Jordan Holmes in goal, through to the irresistible strike pairing of Pinney and Taylor. All four goals were stunners, and if there was any criticism of the Sports, it was that the scoreline could have been at least doubled.
Nat Pinney had already clipped a great 3rd minute chance past the keeper but wide of the far post, before five minutes later the Rocks were gifted a penalty, Josh Hare tripping the nimble Tom Wraight. But Holmes flung himself full-length to his right and touched Reece Harris’s spot kick round the post. It was a save that changed the course of the afternoon.
Ryan Worrall stole the ball from dallying defender Ekepita and cracked a volley which rebounded from keeper Lidakevicius’s chest and away. Chances came and went at both ends, and just past the half hour Thurrock had their narrowest escape yet, Taylor latching on to Pinney’s brilliant pass but pinging his shot against the right-hand post and out again.
It was a brief reprieve. Three minutes later a smartly worked corner routine allowed Taylor to hammer a first time shot which Shaun Hobson struck home from a few yards out. Just another three minutes, and the lead was doubled with an even better goal. Fabulous link-up play with Worrall and Pinney released Taylor for a sizzling first-time strike from the edge of the box.
One of Taylor’s audacious chip-shots beat the keeper but landed on the top of the net, and then Gavin McCallum was released behind the defence but Lidakevicius stood up and saved the narrow-angled shot. 2-0 at the break, and it literally might have been six.
Any Rocks recovery should have materialised quickly after half-time, but instead it was the Sports who pushed on. Taylor met Worrall’s excellent delivery from the right and turned his defender, but his low shot was pushed around the near post. Then Hare – whose excellent all-round play was swiftly now atoning for the penalty error – delivered lethally from an overlap but McCallum was penalised for a foul as he shot.
Referee Lee Venamore was having a decent afternoon, but he made few friends among the Lane regulars with his yellow-card decision against midfield pillar of strength Bosma, for a reflex handball. And, for collectors of improbable statistics, Mr Venamore managed to give fifteen fouls against Borough but only two against the visitors: a very odd balance sheet.
It was high time for another goal, and Jamie Taylor created it right on the hour mark. Fetching and shielding the ball and then spiriting it in from the right, he perfectly set up the onrushing Mark Hughes for an unstoppable low drive into the left corner of the net before the keeper had moved. Hughes, who had copped a very sore ankle in the first half, then took his leave to warm applause from the main stand, and was replaced by Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain who integrated seamlessly and enjoyed a good final half-hour.
Both sides had now battled through almost three hours of football in two successive games, but you’d never have known it as the exultant Sports conjured move after move of fluent passing. Bank Holiday spirits were high, and the Lane now just needed a set of yellow-and-green shirts and a samba band…. On 86 minutes McCallum, who a minute earlier had missed a glorious chance when he tried to back-heel into the net from Pinney’s assist, claimed the fourth goal, looking up and curling a fabulous shot over Lidakevicius and into the very top corner.
There were MoM candidates all over the field, not least the Bournemouth loan pair of Holmes and Hobson, as well as the irrepressible JT, but Worrall’s invention and industry nicked it, both for the sponsors and for this reporter; a rare instance of agreement!
But the other quiet hero was coach Hugo Langton, who had kept his head through two tough away fixtures, and deservedly at the final whistle wore the biggest grin in Eastbourne.
If goals scored were all that mattered, the Sports would sit fourth in the National South table instead of 12th – and entertainment values at the Lane this season have been the highest since possibly Garry Wilson’s promotion season of 2008. Widdrington and Langton have between them worked some small-budget miracles. On the debit side, against the division’s top four teams, Borough have taken just one point from a possible twenty-four. That is the gap which a new manager will need to bridge.
Borough: Holmes; Hare, Khinda-John, Hobson, Stone; Worrall, Hughes, Bosma, McCallum; Pinney, Taylor. Unused subs: Tate, Horlock, Simpemba.
Referee: Lee Venamore Att: 618
Borough MoM: Ryan Worrall