Eastbourne Borough fall prey to Hawks' late swoop

A toe-to-toe battle went the way of the raiders from Hampshire at Priory Lane on Saturday, with drama right to the very end.

A late goal consigned Eastbourne Borough to a 2-1 home defeat against Havant & Waterlooville. Picture by Lydia & Nick Redman
A late goal consigned Eastbourne Borough to a 2-1 home defeat against Havant & Waterlooville. Picture by Lydia & Nick Redman

On a chill but still afternoon, Borough had started the brighter of the two sides. Joel Rollinson's huge arching cross from the left was smartly fetched back across goal by Greg Luer, but no red shirt was close enough to finish.

Then the excellent Jack Currie got in down the same left-hand flank and crossed low and hard, but Charlie Walker's attempt on goal was blocked.

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Jake Elliott swung a splendid diagonal ball out to the Rollinson, who turned his defender inside out but screwed his just just wide of the near post. And Kendall did really well to break on the right, but then with Havant scrambling and Rollinson steaming on for the lay-off, Charley's pass went behind him.

Under half an hour played, and at least four great scoring chances - but still 0-0.

The Hawks, with half a dozen six-footers in their side, posed repeated threats at set-pieces, but otherwise their only clear sight of goal in the first half-hour was an effort swung high and wide by Joe Newton.

But the visitors were steadily working their way into the game, and on the half-hour Jake Andrews hammered a tremendous 25 yarder that deserved better than cannoning back into play off the crossbar.

And just before the break, with the visitors now properly into gear, Tommy Wright cut in to hit the woodwork with another rocket shot. Goalless, then, at the end of a half which had been, well, a half of two halves. And all to play for in the second period.

Hawks resumed strongly and were now stamping their imprint on the game; their tally of fouls was to approach the 20 mark before the afternoon was out.

Referee Michael Ryan had dished out three yellow cards to each team by the end of the game, so perhaps those (dis)honours were more even at pitch level than they appeared from the back of the stand... But in fairness, the contest had been robust, but never ugly.

Anyway, the match burst into the right sort of explosive life on 62 minutes. Jake Elliott teed up Jaden Perez, whose instant strike from the edge of the box dipped over the keeper and smacked into the net off the bar. A superb goal.

And a turning point? Well, yes and no. If anything, it ignited the Hawks, and with extra resources off the bench they had half an hour to wrench back control. But before that, we had another genuine turning point.

Brilliant work by Charley Kendall played in Rollinson with a open target and the chance of turning a slender 1-0 into a clear 2-0. Joel's was not the poorest of strikes, but Will Mannion deflected it past the right-hand post. And Borough had 20 minutes to dig deep and defend their lead.

The Sports held out doggedly until 77 minutes, when Andrews cut a swathe through the centre to equalise.

Now the momentum was with Hawks, although it took a cynical foul by Joe Oastler to take out Kendall, who had looked to go clear on a give-and-go. But while most neutrals would have judged the 1-1 to be about right, Havant were not yet done.

As the big red clock moved to within a few seconds of the 90 minutes, they broke through the inside right channel, and Wright's knock forward hit Steve James - leaving the centre-back helpless to prevent Jake McCarthy from whacking in the winner.

Elation and deflation. An enjoyable and well contested game, but only one winner.