Eastbourne Borough youngsters make step up to impress Bloor

Eastbourne Borough return to Priory Lane on Saturday against Oxford City, with the fans hoping for a win – and with the manager possibly hoping for a bit of sanity.

Goal celebrations for Eastbourne Borough at Billericay / Picture: Lydia Redman
Goal celebrations for Eastbourne Borough at Billericay / Picture: Lydia Redman

After falling 0-5 to Hampton in a scarcely credible opening-day implosion, Danny Bloor took his troops to Billericay for an extravagant 5-2 victory, in which the lead changed hands three times before Borough sealed an emphatic three points.

Bloor was quick to praise his side, for recovering so decisively after the home defeat, and he singled out some of the younger players who are forcing their way into the reckoning.

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“What we can clearly say, even after these two games, is that Charlie Towning and Leone Gravata can be regarded as first-team players now, rather than simply squad players. They have worked so hard in training, they have really listened, and we can select them with confidence.

“Leone was patient last year and is now getting his chance. He helped us to change the game off the bench – scoring one goal and also seeing an excellent header brilliantly saved. Billericay was Charlie’s first competitive start, but you wouldn’t have known it. He is level-headed and he slotted in confidently.

“And James Beresford was outstanding at full-back. He is another one who has come to us since lock-down, and has learned and learned.”

Beresford, still only 19, has made the swiftest of journeys in just eighteen months – from Lancing in the Southern Combination, to Lewes in the Isthmian Premier, and now to the National South. At Billericay he played like a seasoned 100-match veteran.

There will again be some late decisions on Bloor’s line-up, especially in defence. “Mitch Dickenson picked up an ankle injury, so he is a slight doubt. Jake Elliott is close to full fitness, and we’ll be assessing him. But conversely Steve James is available again after his one-match suspension.

Oxford City arrive at the Lane still seeking their first victory of the new season. An opening 1-1 draw at Braintree was followed last weekend by an exciting – but maddening – 3-3 at home to Concord Rangers, who rescued a point with a dramatic late rally from 3-1 down.

But the Hoops have a great club set-up, a strong side and credible play-off ambitions this season. And they are led by a manager much respected by Bloor and many others across the league.

“David Oldfield is a really effective manager, and one of the good guys. He always produces well-organised teams who are both hard to beat and play good football.”

Oldfield has lost his top striker, James Roberts, transferred to Paul Doswell’s bigger-budget Havant and Waterlooville. But the Hoops have seldom struggled at National South level and they will certainly not roll over for the Sports. The goals have been cascading at both ends of the pitch this season, and Bloor will surely be hoping to see his side’s goal difference tipped into a positive balance by 5.00pm on Saturday.

“I’m sure the supporters will see a really close and entertaining contest. We had a great bunch of thirty or forty fans at Billericay to enjoy our victory, and we are looking forward to a healthy and happy home crowd for the Bank Holiday weekend.”