The Sports, looking to return to winning ways after drawing with Oxford City on Saturday, went closest when Greg Luer was denied by the woodwork in the second half in an otherwise scrappy affair.
Kevin Anderson writes...
Eastbourne Borough returned from West Kent with a well-deserved point on Tuesday, after a battling but goalless draw at Maidstone United.
It was not especially pretty, with two evenly matched sides often cancelling each other out. But there was much to admire about Borough’s teamwork and discipline, and Lee Bradbury’s new side has a tough, welded look. Some Eastbourne teams of recent seasons might have wilted in a contest like this, but not this one.
Maidstone are also in a rebuilding phase, with experienced manager John Still bringing in a complete new squad following the Stones’ relegation from the National League. But they remain a large-scale club, with a playing budget far higher than Bradbury’s, and on the evidence of Tuesday, the Sports will have nothing to fear this season.
Bradbury set up with his usual back five, although the freedom of wing-backs Campbell and Adebayo-Rowling was sometimes clipped by the home side’s tactic of playing their wide men high up the pitch. In midfield there was a shirt for the impressive James Ferry alongside Torres and Wills.
The Stones were quick out of the traps, and four minutes in, Sam Corne should have hit the target with a curling 20-yarder. But the Sports responded with a string of fluent moves through midfield. Kane Wills, covering phenomenal ground like a relentless middle-distance runner, first played in a stampeding Adebayo-Rowling to earn a corner, and then launched a searching cross for Elliott Romain.
Borough were in the groove now, and the Stones were in retreat as first Luer conjured a sweet left-foot cross which Campbell headed wide, and then Wills followed up a corner with a fierce drive blocked by a home defender.
Two minutes after the break, Borough had their best chance of the night. A home corner broke down, and Sergio and Tobi combined swiftly to send Greg Luer streaking clear and leaving his marker Gavin Hoyte for dead. Stones keeper Jake Cole narrowed the angle, and Luer’s low shot hit the base of the back post before spinning cruelly away.
Then an almost identical break found Luer racing half the length of the pitch before shooting across the face of goal. The Sports were now on top in this phase, and Maidstone were reduced to long clearances and quick breaks – dealt with well by a flawless Ian Gayle and his defensive partners. A super Tom Hadler save denied Gavin Hoyte, and Gayle put his body on the line to block Dan Wishart’s piledriver.
Dusk gathered, and the last glimmers of goal action were fading as the 0-0 loomed. Maidstone forced a little flurry of corners, safely dealt with, and substitute Charlie Walker had Borough’s final chance with a fierce free-kick, punched away by Cole. This was not the night for a bagful of goals – but bags of commitment was the next best thing. This Borough team has no pretensions, no passengers, but a core of steel.
Borough: Hadler; Adebayo-Rowling, Khinda-John, Gayle, Adebowale, Campbell; Wills, Torres, Ferry (West 66); Luer, Romain (Walker 79). Unused subs: Cox, Wheeler, Gharbaoui.
Referee: Tom Bishop Att: 1713
Borough MoM: Kane Wills – covered every inch of grass (or plastic)