Quigley Shoots Down the Bluebirds
By Kevin Anderson
Two goals for the big man, and a big three points for Eastbourne Borough as they triumphed 3-2 at Chippenham on Saturday – with on-loan striker Joe Quigley twice on target.
In bitter wintry conditions, on a bumpy sloping surface which betrayed best efforts at a passing game, this was no feast of football. Both teams rolled their sleeves up, but Borough won all the key battles: planning and tactics, commitment and teamwork, defending and finishing.
Quigley’s double strike, just after the half-hour, put distance between the two sides, and Chippenham never closed the gap, although their final stoppage-time assault on the Eastbourne goal came edgily close to snatching a late point.
It would have been more than the Bluebirds deserved. The Sports had managed both the match and the conditions better, and – for once – they struck clinically at the right moments to stay in control. The home side, sluggish and a bit shapeless, never coped with Borough’s energy and movement.
Deprived of the injured Ryan Hall, and with Adam Liddle returned to parent club Reading, Howell set up with a 4-2-3-1 which best suited his resources. Wills and Torres secured the midfield, while Dawes, Walker and Cox spread across the open space behind Quigley. Not quite a Christmas tree formation, but the bright star at the top was to light up a dour, slate-grey afternoon.
The Sports gave early notice with Dean Cox’s fourth-minute strike, splendidly kept from the bottom corner by Will Puddy. It was to be the home keeper’s best save of an afternoon when he was often let down by hapless defending in front of him.
After one scare at the other end, Sam Howes dropping a high free-kick under heavy pressure, Borough returned to the attack. Dawes accelerated down the right and crossed for Cox, who hooked his shot just too high – but the signs were promising.
Just before the half-hour Rhys Davies felled Sergio with a crunching challenge – not deemed worthy of a yellow card by referee Amy Fearn. The Borough skipper limped off, replaced by young Andrew Briggs, who slotted in sensibly for a creditable hour. And within a few minutes they were two goals ahead.
Charlie Walker, excellent in the number 10 role, robbed a defender in midfield, raced away on the right and set up Quigley for an emphatic finish from ten yards. And two minutes later, Walker again pounced in midfield and sent Lloyd Dawes away. With home defenders scrambling back, Dawes left the full-back for dead and found Quigley at the back post for 2-0.
Eastbourne hearts missed a couple of beats when Kris Campbell, already on a yellow card for a tactical foul, brought down Karnell Chambers on the very edge of the penalty area. But this time, referee Amy kept her cool and kept the cards in her pocket. Jack Compton’s curling free-kick was well saved by Howes.
Straight after the break, Borough pressed for a third, but in a manic home goal area Dawes’s shot was stopped right on the line, and then keeper Purdy clutched his follow-up effort. Chippenham responded with their best spell of the game and, on 60 minutes, the best goal of the game – a belter from 25 yards by James Guthrie that gave Howes no chance.
2-1 then, and a wobble, but only a brief one. Six minutes later Charlie Walker – that man again – nicked possession in the centre circle and swapped passes with Kane Wills, who powered through past desperate defenders and smacked his shot inside Purdy’s near post to put Borough back in charge.
From then, it was about game management. Gardiner and Ransom were assured at centre-back, and although Guthrie saw one replica attempt saved, the Bluebirds seldom got close enough to threaten Howes’s goal. There was time for a lively cameo from Joel Rollinson off the bench, and for a couple of dashing runs from full-back by Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, but it stayed at 3-1 until stoppage time.
Ah. Stoppage time. More than once this season, the Sports have managed to create a late crisis from a winning position, and in the 92nd minute Nick McCootie got a boot to the ball in a goalmouth melee to give the Bluebirds hope. And then, with the last frantic play of the match, centre-back Will Richards crashed a shot high and wild when he honestly should have scored.
But over the 94 minutes, only one team deserved the points. Two victories in 2019 does not quite qualify as an unbeaten run, but so far, Howell and his team are rather enjoying the New Year.
Borough: Howes; Adebayo-Rowling, Gardner, Ransom, Campbell; Wills, Torres Briggs 30); Dawes (Rollinson 56), Walker, Cox; Quigley. Unused subs: Earl, Blackmore, Hamilton.
Referee: Amy Fearn Att: 504
Borough MoM: Joe Quigley – his goals capped off a fine afternoon
And one other little statistic: more than half of the Borough squad had parents or other family members in attendance at the Hardenhuish. Hard miles, but it's no hardship when your young men are doing you proud.....
Photo credit: Richard Chappell (CTFC)