The Saffrons, Eastbourne
Southern Combination League Premier Division
Match Rating: 3
For a rare midweek ground hopping venture these days, I paid my first visit of the season to The Saffrons this evening, to watch the home team pushing hard for the one promotion place available, against a team surely destined to head in the opposite direction, and whom I saw lose 0-10 at Newhaven earlier in the season, remarkably just two seasons since they won this league.
The Saffrons has not changed significantly since last season, apart from the tea bar situated in one corner has been painted in pink on the inside, and a group of young fans labeling themselves as “Pier Pressure” now add some colour and noise to Eastbourne Town games with their singing and drum beating amongst various colourful flags. I have always found that Eastbourne Town was no different with a very well presented, informative and interesting publication.
Eastbourne Town came into this game in second place, two points behind leaders Horsham but with a game in hand, having won 19 and drawn two of their 23 games so far. East Preston were second bottom, with just a win and three draws from their 25 games. When the two teams met on the opening day of the season, Eastbourne Town won 0-1
On a very cold evening, the visitors actually started quite well, but it took Eastbourne just five minutes to take the lead, when Nathan Crabb headed home at the near post from a corner. They doubled their lead on 15 minutes when the keeper fumbled a shot into the air and Crabb nodded in virtually on the line. Within a minute, the home side scored their third, with Crabb completing his hat-trick, when he dribbled in from the right wing before lashing a powerful shot inside the keeper’s near post. On 26 minutes, a header from a corner hit the post, before Eastbourne score their fourth on the half hour. Their player outpaced a defender down the right wing before whipping in a cross into the box which Aaron Capon headed home unmarked. The visitors pulled a goal back on 32 minutes when Kris Harding lobbed the keeper from towards the outer corner of the penalty area, but Eastbourne restored their four goal lead on 36 minutes when Capon kept running from deep before finally firing low inside the near post. They had a mishit shot cleared off the line on 38 minutes, before the home side scored again on 43 minutes. The ball was curled down the wing and a defender just failed to cut the ball out, allowing Kenny Pogue to run through on goal before flicking the ball past the keeper and in off the far post. Immediately before the half time whistle, Eastbourne made it 7-1, again it was all too easy for a player to waltz through the East Preston defence, this time Matthew Derby, who eventually fired low past the keeper.
As usually happens after such a devastating first half, the second half was a relative damp squib, as Eastbourne lost their intensity and East Preston became more resilient. The home side did see a downward header go just wide of the far post, but on 59 minutes, it was Wes Tate's turn to all too easily dance through the defence before tapping home. Two minutes after East Preston saw a cross shot on the break go just wide of the far post, but on 72 minutes, they were awarded a penalty for a foul tackle in the box after a couple of attempts on goal were blocked. Harding converted high to the left of the goal despite the keeper diving the right way. Five minutes from time and Eastbourne scored their ninth when the Pogue ran clear of the defence before crossing to Bailo Camara who tapped home from close range. Right at the end of the game, Eastbourne were given the chance to make double figures when they were awarded a penalty by the linesman for a foul tackle in the area. Tate fired the spot kick high into the roof of the net, and almost immediately afterwards the referee blew the full time whistle.
So a very impressive, commanding display by Eastbourne, particularly in the first half, but credit to East Preston who put in a very respectable performance in the second half despite already being on the end of a thrashing. They actually did not look too bad going forward, but were woeful defensively, and this probably won’t be the last hiding they get this season.