Walking Football National Cup Over 50s
Eastbourne Borough vs Hastings
Priory Lane, Eastbourne, 6th May 2023
Eastbourne Borough 3 Hastings 1
You couldn’t really fault Hastings in a game that probably warranted a score of 2-2 and possibly even a win for the visitors if home keeper Tony Edwards hadn’t been simply staggering. He is part of the south-eastern England set-up and on the cusp of the full national side so encountering a colossus between the sticks shouldn’t have come as a surprise to us.
The only dry place at Priory Lane was Jimbo’s legendary snood coat but the willowy Spurs fan wasn’t about to share it with anybody. Hastings began by attacking the Pevensey End. Steve Over was the obvious threat up-front for Eastbourne but to a large extent he was man-marked out of the contest by Deano who ultimately jarred his kneecap in a challenge and took a ten-minute break later on. Deano would have needed wipers for his shades in the rain and they were dispensed with.
Over proved a consistent danger (moving beautifully) but never broke free from a swarm of claret around him with Wingnut taking over to keep the debonair Eastbourne car seller reasonably quiet. Wingnut also read many passes-out from the hosts as if they were letters from home and was able to make numerous interceptions down the central channel.
Beakster produced some early shots, but the first notable chance fell for Borough no 2 (Shoesmith) who shot wide of Gig Colin. Moments later, Shoesmith (who was combining well with Kemp) hit one of Gig’s uprights after getting hold of a deflection from Over.
We saw exhibition stuff from the hosts’ keeper but on the seven-minute mark it was our own stopper Colin who got down well to trap a skidding ball. Soon after, our Arsenal uberfan excelled again with a reflex save once more from Shoesmith who for a while was rampant. After falling just outside his own area on the quarter-hour mark, Jimbo bent himself low for what seemed like an eternity as though he had sensed something up at Westminster Abbey and was genuflecting to the new monarch. He soon recovered his normal limber self.
Hastings coach and skipper Russ pinged a low corner in like a marble only for keeper Tony to get a toe on it with Jimbo poised for what would have otherwise been a simple put-away. We must hand it to Borough for playing a high press throughout; they truly went for the win, never wanted pens and were willing to take a few risks in front of their crowd of a solitary lady in a Harold Wilson-style Gannex raincoat.
It was Hastings who went ahead after 19 minutes. Blakie (who had an unusual roving commission) sensed to within a few inches where a Beakie pass was going to fall and his decent shot slid under the home keeper’s outstretched arm. 0 – 1.
Eastbourne who had been enterprising from the outset now began to really chase the game. But it was only a stroke of good fortune that got them to parity. An own goal? Not really, the shot from Mark Reed after 22 minutes was always on-target. It took a big deflection off Blakie and acquired a heavy spin that gave Colin no chance as he followed what would normally have been the path of the ball. 1 – 1.
Making a challenge, Deano got the aforementioned injury and was replaced shortly before the break by the Wingnut. Beakie and Blakie were now feeding each other well and there was a flurry of activity at both ends with repeated screams of ‘DoGSO – denial of goal-scoring opportunity’. Referee Des Prichard finally opted for a drop ball near Colin’s goal. The visitors went in for half time with Blakie and Beakie on warnings and with the game delicately poised. Hastings had been confronted with consistent overlaps on the left by a competitive home side. To say that Mr Prichard had “let it flow” would be diplomatic and there had been multiple tackles from behind though admittedly by both sides. I don’t think either team could have a grievance with the ref’s relaxed approach and it was an outstanding game to watch.
Deano took his ten-minute break at the start of the second half with Wingnut excelling in his role as detailed. Blakie now had a roving commission and, with his shooting boots obviously on, was playing quite high. Hastings were in the ascendancy but it took only a pocket of space found from somewhere to see Steve Over feed Mark Reed close in. The Borough number 9 shot crisply and low to give Colin no chance from close quarters and notch his second. It was 2 – 1 after only a few minutes of the second period.
Hastings dug even deeper to find the equalizer with Russ being fed by Beakie to force yet another good save from Tony. Wingnut also got a good shot off only to be denied, and for a while the Eastbourne goal resembled a coconut shy but with everything bouncing back at us. Beakie was getting more chances. He (sensibly) chose to dink a chip over Tony who had advanced up his area only for our Anglo-Dutchman to see the ball hit the cross bar. It seemed that something would eventually go the way of the visitors but of course by now they too were chasing the game which had become increasingly stretched. Beakie was being found consistently by Colin who despite the greasy ball made many successful brave high-tariff long passes through the middle to our talisman.
On eight minutes, Shoesmith, Kemp and Trowell produced some intricate triangular passes with Trowell testing Colin who parried well from close range. Now it was the Tony Edwards show with one-handed saves from Jimbo and then Blakie. After 10 minutes, Shoesmith seemed to lose his bearings and made what seemed like a spirited attempt to score an own goal.
The Hastings boys consistently had good ideas at free kicks. (We seem bereft of them when practising at the Academy so this is obviously being discussed now.) After ten minutes, Deano returned and began marking the troublesome Kemp (No 8). A bizarre incident followed in which as the ball trickled just wide of his area, Tony (as far as I saw it) scooped the ball into his ‘D’ and so denied Hastings a corner.
With the rain easing, Beakie fed Deano who shot well to draw yet another good save. On 21 minutes, after what Russ contends was a clear foul, Trowell and Kemp combined down Hastings’ left flank with Kemp’s shot from close quarters giving Gig no chance. 3 – 1.
And so it remained. Did we miss El Jay? Well, you are always going to miss a player of his calibre. Beakie was able to jink his way round players in his usual style but, normally as elusive as a dog at a fair, he didn’t seem to find that extra yard in order to set himself for a shot. His day will no doubt come in the next few matches and it will be a very long time before Hastings meet a superb keeper in such a rich vein of form.
(Brian Glanville is away).
MoM Hastings: Ian Blake (despite technically scoring at both ends)
MoM Eastbourne: Tony Edwards (stellar).
(More wonderful photos from Howard will follow.)