Vanarama National League South
Saturday 18 March 2017 - Priory Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Rigg, Welch-Hayes, Batten, Andresson, Artus (c), Watkins (Simpson 84), Murphy, McCootie (Morgan 84), Hemmings, McClousky (Hunter 74). subs not used: Diallo, Hutchinson.
|man of the match:
||McClousky (46), Own Goal (61)
||C Pollard, G Bryne, A Gray
|league position: 8th
||next match: Gosport Borough (A)
Report taken from
A trip to the seaside, a red card and a 2-1 win. It's not a routine which rolls off the tongue but City's latest success once again showed the strength of character in the side.
On Tuesday, they had to come back from a goal down, with an opposition red card assisting their comeback.
This time they were seemingly in cruise control, leading 2-0 thanks to Shawn McCoulsky's header and a Shaun Hobson own goal, but George Rigg's 80th minute red card, and resulting free-kick scored by Miguel Baptista, meant a nervy finale on the South Coast.
Gary Owers brought Chas Hemmings back into the side for Marvin Morgan in the only change from Tuesday's win at Weston.
Eastbourne were without leading goalscorer Elliott Romain, who'd netted in the 1-1 draw at Twerton in October. His form saw him land a move to National Premier high-flyers Dagenham & Redbridge.
His absence was key. The first half saw the hosts fail to muster a single shot on target, with both teams hampered by a swirling wind and many passes gliding out of play on Priory Lane's 3G surface.
Andy Watkins felt the full force of the artificial pitch on 17 minutes. The top scorer skipped around Borough full-back Josh Hare, who scythed him down on the edge of the area to earn the first caution of the contest.
Nick McCootie forced Lewis Carey into action on 35 minutes. Following good work by Axel Andresson, City's number nine cut in from the byline and saw his shot at the near post tipped behind by the home stopper at his near post.
Ryan Worrall produced the home side's first effort on goal moments before the interval. Christian Oxlade-Chamberain's lay off following a half-cleared free-kick was met by the midfielder, who sent a wayward shot out of the ground.
Eastbourne were dealt a blow on the cusp of half-time when Billy Murphy caught Mark Hughes with a strong challenge. Referee Chris Pollard allowed play to continue, but the former Northern Ireland international was clearly in discomfort, and failed to re-appear after the break, Gavin McCallum taking his place.
The reshuffle clearly hindered Tommy Widdrington's men, who fell behind within two minutes of the restart.
Murphy, set-piece extraordinaire, added another assist to his ever-increasing tally. His floated free-kick proved impossible to defend against, with McCoulsky stealing in with a glancing header to give City the lead.
Boro' responded by withdrawing Oxlade-Chamberlain, brother of Arsenal and England's Alex, with Reece Connolly taking his place.
McCootie continued to threaten down the City right. A cross into the middle from the number nine saw Ian Simpemba just about manage to divert the ball wide of his own post.
The next probing run from the Bath man saw another centre-back not enjoy the same luck. Picking up a loose ball, his driven delivery was looking for McCoulsky but Hobson slid in to deceive Carey and guide the ball past his helpless keeper.
City were in the ascendency. Murphy's shot with his weaker foot flew narrowly wide and Andresson sent a free-kick over with the visitors' pressing game forcing their opponents into mistakes.
It looked like Gary Owers and Jim Rollo could exchange their dugout seats for deckchairs as their side appeared completely in control, but they were given a wake-up call with 10 minutes remaining when a rush of blood threatened to spoil all their good work.
Nathaniel Pinney knocked the ball on to Connolly, with the City defence momentarily asleep. Rigg was left to try and bail them out, but his attempted interception was horribly mistimed as he wiped out the substitute as he lined up a shot from 20 yards.
Referee Pollard had little option but to produce a red card, with the upcoming three match ban ending the full-back's ever present run of starts since joining the club.
Rigg would have hardly reached the changing rooms as Baptista stepped up to majestically curl in the resulting free-kick in off the post with Max O'Leary given no chance – their first shot on target of the game.
The City manager called upon experience, bringing on Sekani Simpson to fill in at right back, and Marvin Morgan, withdrawing Watkins and the superb McCootie. Eastbourne threw caution to the wind, introducing forward Ryley Tate for defender Craig Stone.
Despite the man advantage, the hosts lacked any penetration in attack to threaten the Romans back four. The closest they came to levelling was when Jack Batten sliced McCallum's centre wide, with the resulting corner flashing across a crowded penalty area.
Morgan nearly restored the two-goal advantage when his solo run saw him one-on-one with Carey, but his final touch allowed the keeper to bravely prevent the forward from converting.
It proved irrelevant. Although it wasn't as comfortable as it could have been, three further points, and a first ever win on 3G, are positive signals ahead of Tuesday's trip to another at Gosport.