Eastbourne United close gap with narrow win – Eastbourne Town leave Newhaven in dry dock

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Eastbourne United overcame Peacehaven and Telscombe with a single goal to put the pressure on the sides at the top of the Southern Combination premier. And Eastbourne Town swept to a remarkable 4-0 victory away to leaders Newhaven.

The Oval pitch looked more like the surface of the moon as United took another giant step towards the play-offs. Peacehaven & Telscombe were the visitors following non-stop rain, and both sides realised early on this would prove a very tricky landscape.

United were boosted by the return from injury of Gary Ingram, but were otherwise pretty much unchanged from the squad that took apart Saltdean the previous week.From the whistle it was obvious there were going to be very few gazelle-like runs down the wings from either team as the depth of mud became apparent; it was huge tribute to the United ground staff that a playable surface had been produced at all.

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The first 45 was devoid of chances as both teams’ social media channels searched for something to report, the battle being played out very much in the midfield.

Eastboune United celebrate the breakthrough against Peacehaven and Telscombe | Picture: Joe KnightEastboune United celebrate the breakthrough against Peacehaven and Telscombe | Picture: Joe Knight
Eastboune United celebrate the breakthrough against Peacehaven and Telscombe | Picture: Joe Knight

The better chances went to Peacehaven, but every single time they got toward the United penalty area, there was Alfie Headland, an impassable object in the heart of defence.

Half-time came without a break in the deadlock and the talk in the bar was of both teams being happy to be in it still. After the break, United started the brighter, sensing that Peacehaven didn’t have that extra one percent in them to finish it.

Still very few clear chances emerged until Ed Ratcliffe, fresh from helping the under-23s to the County Cup final on Thursday, burst through the Peacehaven defence - trailing defenders behind him in the quicksand that was the edge of the box, slotting it neatly past Nathan Stromberg in the Peacehaven goal.

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The bumper crowd livened up and made some real noise, making it a very nervous last 20 for Peacehaven as United started to rain balls into the box. The best chane went to Ingram, who lost footing on the treacherous surface and blasted over with a few minutes to go.

Eastbourne Town celebrating their fourth goal against Newhaven | Picture: Josh ClaxtonEastbourne Town celebrating their fourth goal against Newhaven | Picture: Josh Claxton
Eastbourne Town celebrating their fourth goal against Newhaven | Picture: Josh Claxton

On the final whistle, United were treated to a rare singsong from the “SagaLouts”, the boys in the shed sensing that this could be the best chance in years of a top place finish.Next Saturday United make the short trip to Little Common as they look to close the seven-point gap on league leaders Newhaven.

STEVE HUXLEY

Newhaven 0 Eastbourne Town 4

This was a truly special performance from Eastbourne Town – and a vital three points in the play-off race.A tough challenge awaited the men from The Saffrons as they made the trip to league leaders Newhaven who had only lost one league game all season. What followed left the 25-30 traveling supporters flabbergasted.From the off, Town set up with a more aggressive approach than most had anticipated, including Newhaven!

Ollie Davies opened the scoring just six minutes in, latching on to a mistake from the Newhaven defence as a result of a high press. Davies set himself and comfortably lifted his left-footed effort into the far right corner of the net.The pressure was relentless and so was Nathan Jenkins. The young full-back turned midfielder was having another exceptional game, carrying the ball through midfield against top-quality opposition with ease.

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Five minutes from the break, Jenkins nicked the ball from Alfie Rogers and was off to the races. He kept going and going and going until he found himself inside the box, and with a touch of class to beat two defenders, drilled home the second – a memorable first goal for the club.

It was 0-2 at half-time and the Dockers were stunned.Town supporters were expecting a response from the league leaders and some were even questioning whether it should have been at least three or four and that they might regret not taking other chances.

Did the response come? Did it heck! Town were first out from the changing rooms and raring to go despite Newhaven making them wait for a good couple of minutes. From the whistle it was press press press! The energy was relentless and the momentum showed no signs of shifting.Leon Grieg collected the ball on the right-hand side from Freddie Warren, and with his classic close-touch control, dribbled past two defenders and drilled home his strike. Three-nil to the Town!Town’s tails were up and the visitors smelled blood on the red of Newhaven. The hosts called upon the substitutes but they were having zero impact on proceedings, unlike Town’s.

Tom Vickers came on to join the party despite having limped off the field in midweek. The experienceed midfielder crafted a perfect through ball to James Hull who only had one thought in mind and dispatched comfortably, capping off a truly memorable afternoon at Fort Road.As the Dieppe ferry departed from the docks in the distance, and Newhaven opponent collected a red card in frustration, the full-time whistle went. An emphatic win against the league leaders.Next up for Town – Bexhill United (away) on Saturday.

JOSH CLAXTON