Ins and outs at Eastbourne Borough - but squad is as good, if not better

Eastbourne Borough kick off the new National League South season tomorrow with boss Danny Bloor insisting: The squad’s as strong as last term – if not stronger.

Reunited tomorrow - Danny Bloor and the Priory Lane faithful
Reunited tomorrow - Danny Bloor and the Priory Lane faithful

Hampton and Richmond visit Priory Lane for the opening game in a season in which the Sports look to follow their superb third-placed finish in the curtailed 2020-21 campaign.

Bloor can call on the core of that squad, which was hallmarked by energy, pace and a fearlessness that refused to be cowed by opponents’ reputations: football ‘con brio’.

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Can the Sports take up where they left off? Bloor sees no reason why not.

“We have said goodbye to five or six players – but like for like, the replacements are at least as good.

“Three of our lads – Matt Pickering, James Vaughan and Dan Blackmore – are off to complete their scholarships in the US. Two loanees have returned to QPR, and Franco Ravizzoli goes straight into the first team squad at MK Dons. And Dean Cox has moved on, with best wishes.

“But our supporters will absolutely love the new lads. Curtis Anderson in goal comes with terrific pedigree from Wycombe Wanderers. Defender Jake Elliott is a real prospect and could very well have a Football League future.Jack Currie is on a season’s loan from AFC Wimbledon. Josh Oyunsan adds powerful presence up front.

“And our own young players like Leone Gravata and Charlie Towling are forcing their way into my thinking. Like for like, it is actually a stronger squad than last season.”

Results in friendlies were mixed – but rounded off with eye-catching victories over teams from full-timers Millwall and Queens Park Rangers. Bloor said: “The pre-season has had its challenges. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had Covid, we’ve had players pinged. But the appetite is phenomenal... we’re primed and ready to go.”

After one season abruptly halted and the next spluttering to closure and confusion behind closed doors, fans will be in the ground tomorrow hoping for a full, finished campaign.

It will also be a chance for them and Borough to say farewell to a legend of non-league football, Sergio Torres, who is heading off to a new life and career in Spain.