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1st XI - Match centre

St Albans City
Eastbourne Borough
Sat 25 Aug 15:00 - The Vanarama National League - Vanarama National League South Full time Attendance 510

Saints and Sports Share the Spoils

Borough take a point at Clarence Park

Some you win, some you draw. Three of each, in fact, after Eastbourne Borough returned from St Albans on Saturday with a well-earned point, and still undefeated in National South.

With new leaders Woking arriving on Bank Holiday Monday, the challenges are rushing up like chicanes on a Formula One circuit, and there are no illusions at the Lane. But for players, management and supporters, the grinding haul around the M25 – up to three and a half hours for some - was rewarded with a competent performance, against opponents who surely will mount a challenge this season. City had chances but were rash and wasteful, while Borough controlled the ball and the match for long spells.

Clarence Park is a ground for those who enjoy their football with a dash of nostalgia – and nothing wrong with that. The Park is indeed a park, and you approach through the tree-lined paths, stepping aside for the joggers and the nippers on scooters. And once inside, a lush, green and gently sloping pitch greets spectators, who have their choice of seats in a distinguished, timbered grandstand in the club’s blue and yellow livery. Choose carefully, though, or you might find yourself with a half-timbered view of half the pitch...

The Saints are the sort of genial, grounded club that Borough can relate to; and appropriately, the matchday programme records that our head-to-head playing record is absolutely level (won seven each and drawn two, soon to be three). After a strong run to the play-offs last season, they have wobbled a bit in the new campaign, and seasoned gaffer Ian Allinson is still juggling his squad. His counterpart Jamie Howell also chose to tweak the starting line-up, giving Sergio Torres a breather, and also handing the right-back shirt to Tom Day. There was a start in midfield for Mike West – who responded with an outstanding ninety minutes.

Just 12 minutes in, that thick green turf cost Borough a goal. Some precarious tippy-tap defending should have ended with a big Mark Smith clearance upfield, but Tom Gardiner’s underhit pass to the goalkeeper only nestled into the turf, and striker Ralston Gabriel nipped in with a shot under Smith for 1-0.

It was tough on Gardiner, returning to his former club, but to Tom’s credit the centre-back simply resumed his trademark level-headed game – with just one momentary lapse late in the second half, when his rash midfield challenge earned him a yellow card.

City’s lead lasted barely three minutes. Ben Herd – booked very early by Amy Fearn for a cruncher on Lloyd Dawes – was pulled up for an intentional handball wide on the Borough left, and Westy swung in a wicked free-kick with both pace and swerve. Centre-back Harold Joseph got a glance of a header on it, but the ball was destined for the top corner of the net anyway.

1-1 then, and with the deadlock broken so early in the match, we were half-expecting a goalfest. It never quite happened. After the earlier lapse, the Sports defence closed ranks around Ransom and Gardiner, while at the other end City’s three centre-backs were coping pretty well with Dawes and Walker’s runs.
Herd – still at risk of a second yellow – fouled Walker to stop a breaking run, but this time the free-kick was fruitless. And then Mike West’s swinging corner almost found Ransom at the back post but the home defence blocked him.

The first half end with a strong spell of City pressure, and they should have been ahead in added time. David Moyo’s interception put Gabriel clear, but with Smith’s imposing frame closing his options, ho took the ball wide and then missed the target. Phew.

That was almost as close as the Saints came to regaining the lead. Almost. In a second half largely controlled by Borough, Herd had an early effort correctly pulled back for offside, and then in the final quarter-hour Gabriel nipped in at the near post to meet a low cross from the right, but his contact was poor and his shot slid across the face of goal and out.

Eastbourne, by contrast, were seriously opening up the opposition. From David Martin’s supply, a smart turn and shot by Dawes was deflected over, and Ransom headed wide from the corner. Then Dean Cox conjured a similar effort, but too high. Pressure was building, an on the hour Cox’s chip found Walker zipping in from the left, but his cracking shot was foiled by a splendid Dean Snedker save.

It was to Charlie’s last significant action, for the former Saints striker took a nasty tumble on 67 minutes and – to sympathetic applause from both sides – was stretchered off. Borough supporters and management alike were fearing the worst, but the post-match news was more encouraging: a painfully jarred knee but probably no worse damage.

Sergio, off the bench, brought fresh energy and the Sports were now dominant. There was time for a sweet move on the left and a lovely Kristian Campbell feed to Yemi, but no room for the shot, and then for Kane Wills to leave the City crossbar shuddering with a steamhammer drive from a short corner. It was as near as either side would come to breaking the deadlock. But a point’s a point for all that….

Borough: Smith; Day (Hamilton 60), Gardiner, Ransom, Campbell; Cox, West, Wills, Martin (Torres 65); Walker (Odubade 67), Dawes. Unused subs: Briggs, Pollard.

Referee: Amy Fearn – assured and happy to keep the game flowing
Att: 510
Borough MoM: an inspired 90 minutes from Mike West


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Some you win, some you draw. Three of each, in fact, after Eastbourne Borough returned from St Albans on Saturday with a well-earned point, and still undefeated in National South.

With new leaders Woking arriving on Bank Holiday Monday, the challenges are rushing up like chicanes on a Formula One circuit, and there are no illusions at the Lane. But for players, management and supporters, the grinding haul around the M25 – up to three and a half hours for some - was rewarded with a competent performance, against opponents who surely will mount a challenge this season. City had chances but were rash and wasteful, while Borough controlled the ball and the match for long spells.

Clarence Park is a ground for those who enjoy their football with a dash of nostalgia – and nothing wrong with that. The Park is indeed a park, and you approach through the tree-lined paths, stepping aside for the joggers and the nippers on scooters. And once inside, a lush, green and gently sloping pitch greets spectators, who have their choice of seats in a distinguished, timbered grandstand in the club’s blue and yellow livery. Choose carefully, though, or you might find yourself with a half-timbered view of half the pitch...

The Saints are the sort of genial, grounded club that Borough can relate to; and appropriately, the matchday programme records that our head-to-head playing record is absolutely level (won seven each and drawn two, soon to be three). After a strong run to the play-offs last season, they have wobbled a bit in the new campaign, and seasoned gaffer Ian Allinson is still juggling his squad. His counterpart Jamie Howell also chose to tweak the starting line-up, giving Sergio Torres a breather, and also handing the right-back shirt to Tom Day. There was a start in midfield for Mike West – who responded with an outstanding ninety minutes.

Just 12 minutes in, that thick green turf cost Borough a goal, after a sudden squall just on kick-off had left the surface glisteningly treacherous. Some precarious tippy-tap defending should have ended with a big Mark Smith clearance upfield, but Tom Gardiner’s underhit pass to the goalkeeper only squelched into the turf, and striker Ralston Gabriel nipped in with a shot under Smith for 1-0.

It was tough on Gardiner, returning to his former club, but to Tom’s credit the centre-back simply resumed his trademark level-headed game – with just one momentary lapse late in the second half, when his rash midfield challenge earned him a yellow card.

City’s lead lasted barely three minutes. Ben Herd – booked very early by Amy Fearn for a cruncher on Lloyd Dawes – was pulled up for an intentional handball wide on the Borough left, and Westy swung in a wicked free-kick with both pace and swerve. Centre-back Harold Joseph got a glance of a header on it, but the ball was destined for the top corner of the net anyway.

1-1 then, and with the deadlock broken so early in the match, we were half-expecting a goalfest. It never quite happened. After the earlier lapse, the Sports defence closed ranks around Ransom and Gardiner, while at the other end City’s three centre-backs were coping pretty well with Dawes and Walker’s runs.
Herd – still at risk of a second yellow – fouled Walker to stop a breaking run, but this time the free-kick was fruitless. And then Mike West’s swinging corner almost found Ransom at the back post but the home defence blocked him.

The first half end with a strong spell of City pressure, and they should have been ahead in added time. David Moyo’s interception put Gabriel clear, but with Smith’s imposing frame closing his options, ho took the ball wide and then missed the target. Phew.

That was almost as close as the Saints came to regaining the lead. Almost. In a second half largely controlled by Borough, Herd had an early effort correctly pulled back for offside, and then in the final quarter-hour Gabriel nipped in at the near post to meet a low cross from the right, but his contact was poor and his shot slid across the face of goal and out.

Eastbourne, by contrast, were seriously opening up the opposition. From David Martin’s supply, a smart turn and shot by Dawes was deflected over, and Ransom headed wide from the corner. Then Dean Cox conjured a similar effort, but too high. Pressure was building, an on the hour Cox’s chip found Walker zipping in from the left, but his cracking shot was foiled by a splendid Dean Snedker save.

It was to Charlie’s last significant action, for the former Saints striker took a nasty tumble on 67 minutes and – to sympathetic applause from both sides – was stretchered off. Borough supporters and management alike were fearing the worst, but the post-match news was more encouraging: a painfully jarred knee but probably no worse damage.

Sergio, off the bench, brought fresh energy and the Sports were now dominant. There was time for a sweet move on the left and a lovely Kristian Campbell feed to Yemi, but no room for the shot, and then for Kane Wills to leave the City crossbar shuddering with a steamhammer drive from a short corner. It was as near as either side would come to breaking the deadlock. But a point’s a point for all that….

Borough: Smith; Day (Hamilton 60), Gardiner, Ransom, Campbell; Cox, West, Wills, Martin (Torres 65); Walker (Odubade 67), Dawes. Unused subs: Briggs, Pollard.

Referee: Amy Fearn – assured and happy to keep the game flowing
Att: 510
Borough MoM: an inspired 90 minutes from Mike West

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