Groundhog Day as Sports Lose at Home
By Kevin Anderson
White Tigers pounce for the points despite Borough dominance
In the United States, Groundhog Day falls on February 2nd. At Priory Lane, it is any given Saturday. Yet again, Eastbourne Borough under-performed at home in front of their long-suffering supporters, as Truro City rode away with three National South points and a 3-1 victory.
Borough's dreadful home record still leaves them nervously close to the drop zone, while City, eager and physically strong, have now won four on the spin, and are looking as good a bet as any other club in the wide-open play-off race. A post-match glance at other results gave some relief for the Sports: with Whitehawk and Bognor all but relegated, six clubs including Borough are "contesting" the final relegation place, and only Chippenham picked up points.
Frustrations with the final score aside, it was not a bad game. City's gruelling journey was rewarded not only with the result but with a generous Priory Lane welcome - including the new tradition of a second-half tannoy announcement and a warm round of applause right around the ground, for the White Tigers squad and their followers.
Individual Borough performances were modest rather than dreadful. Positioning seemed to catch Smith out on the goals; Jim Haran was the best of a back line which, ironically, had a relatively quiet afternoon; and further forward, the finishing rather than the approach work was the problem, at least at first glance.
Tactically, Borough need to work out how to tackle nine-man defences via ten-man attacks. Edwards, Pickering and in a late cameo Hendon were sometimes joining in porposefully from the full-back positions, but the supply to the strikers – themselves surrounded by defenders built like security guards – needs somehow to be cuter. There are reasons why the Sports are more potent away from home.
Borough did win the count of scoring chances by more than three to one – the reverse of the actual scoreline. But the White Tigers pounced with deadly effect in a curious match, after Eastbourne had dominated the opening stages.
The Sports could have been out of sight by the half-hour mark. They dominated the ball early on, and on 14 minutes Lloyd Dawes with a fifty yard dash sweetly set up Yemi Odubade, whose shot across keeper Tom McHale found the bottom corner.
McHale then saved fabulously from Jamie Taylor, and Dawes fizzed one just wide from a perfect position (although in fairness it was a chance he created himself, despite being tugged back illegally by centre-back Ed Palmer). Odubade's curler didn't curl quite enough and missed the top corner by inches, and Gavin McCallum's slicing run and goalbound strike was blocked for a corner.
But Truro struck lethally twice in four minutes. Tom Owen-Evans caught the home defence flat, superbly lobbing keeper Mark Smith for the 31st minute equaliser. Then from a corner Smith point-blank saved Owen-Evans' header but Jamie Richards smashed the loose ball in after some frantic pinball. And just six minutes after the break Cody Cooke caught Borough cold from a quick throw-in and a smart assist from midfield to make it 3-1.
It was to be City's last scoring chance of the afternoon, but they had done enough. The home side pressed and pressed, with strong leadership from Kane Wills and relentless running from Sergio Torres, but the damage had been done and – like so many other Priory Lane visitors – the mountainous City defenders were strong enough and canny enough to keep Borough at a safe distance.
There were glimpses of goal, but blunt or wayward finishing cost the Sports dear. Odubade, McCallum and substitute Shaun Okojie all came close, and when the effervescent Taylor pinged a final volley just wide from a dazzling build-up, the Priory Lane faithful gave a collective sigh: Groundhog Day all over again.
Borough: Smith; Pickering, Haran (Hendon 81), Ransom, Edwards; Taylor, Wills, Torres, McCallum; Dawes (Harris 53), Odubade (Okojie 67). Unused subs: Simpemba, Khinda-John.
Referee: a cheerfully competent Lloyd Wood - a little lenient in some eyes, but Lloyd kept the game flowing.
Borough MoM: a tough call. Jimmy Haran got a lot right, JT was tirelessly prompting. Gavin claimed the sponsors' bubbly. Kane Wills – battling for the cause - edges it for the press officer....