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Report 25th March 2023



Eastbourne Borough 3 Hastings Hornets 1

Eastbourne Borough scored in the very first and last minute of their clash with the Hornets in the windiest match yet played in the Southern Combination League.

Their victory was well-deserved but was far from the push-over the score line suggests on paper.

Both teams are leapfrogging around in mid table and the victory catapults the seasiders up the league. They were blown there by gale force swirling winds at Priory Lane which made conditions very difficult.

To give you some idea, the howling winds meant you couldn’t hear John Dyer shouting and, bolstered by the captaincy, he was making a lot of noise.

The Hornets were stung in the opening minute with EB’s first attack. The blues carved a hole down the left, a fierce shot was well-saved by the diving Cat but the wind blew the ball out of the area into the path of a striker who buried the rebound in off the bar. 1-0.

The early goal galvanized the Hornets and Puffing Paul Hutton would not put a foot wrong for the next 38 minutes. He tried a speculative, wind-assisted punt from the halfway line which was only a foot wide before a lovely link up in midfield by John and Chairs saw the Rickster in on goal. His powerful shot gave Tony the excellent international Eastbourne goalie no chance and DLTN celebrated his equaliser with his trademark aerobatics. 1-1 with five minutes gone. Arguably the best goal of the game.

Eastbourne were the more organized side and despite the wind advantage for the visitors, Hastings couldn’t capitalize with their few shots on target easily dealt with. They came on like a well-oiled machine and the Cat made no fewer than six good stops before the second goal.

It was a beauty. A quick roll-out at the far end was switched cross field with two balls and Mike Gonnatello finished well leaving the Cat on his fat backside. 2-1 halftime.

The Hornets came out looking for the equalizer. Posh gave way to Matty Longshanks who had an immediate effect and two chances narrowly wide. John Dyer then played a tactical card which saw him upfront and Ricky playing deeper and it didn’t come off. His efforts as the number 9 came to nought and Ricky defended like a Primark Blouse on a washing line.

Eastbourne had another six or seven chances well saved by The Cat – his best a full-length fisted turnaway from a thunderous shot – and Chairs made three excellent last-ditch tackles and blocks as he grew into his deeper role.

There was too much jockeying for better shooting positions up front by the H’s. Shoot on sight ought to be the mantra.

John Dyer, Matty, Chairs and Puffing all had attempts wide of the mark or straight at Tony the Goalie. Then it came to the last minute, EB surged forward, won a free kick and the resulting shot was cruelly deflected into the far corner off Puffing’s outstretched boot. It could have gone anywhere but unluckily went straight in, with the Cat committed going the other way on one knee. 3-1 it finished.

The game was well-reffed by Mighty Mick Davies making his league debut. He was fair to both sides, tough on running (in fact two home players were blue-carded) and he explained every decision.

What a pleasure it was to play this match despite the awful conditions. There was nothing but good humoured camaraderie throughout, zero needle, no prima donnas and no spite just super spirit. It was a great afternoon out and the lads enjoyed the post-match hospitality.

Eastbourne’s man of the match was the tireless Mike Gonnatello. He gave Chairs a torrid time in the first half but he stuck to him like glue in the second. And the Hornets’ MoM was The Cat who kept the lads in with a shout til the death with a string of saves.