Tag Archives: Eastbourne Borough

Finally… We Saw Some Football

Congratulations to all of you who made it down to the ground early, shovels in hand, ensuring this game went ahead. I would have joined you but I was otherwise engaged, travelling back down on the morning of the game from visiting family in the north. It wasn’t the worst journey in the world, the service between Doncaster and Kings Cross is pretty good, the only problem being for the third time in a row on that particular service I had to explain to someone who boarded the train earlier exactly how the seat numbering system works…

It may be worth my while in future to produce an explanatory pamphlet and have it posted to all residents of Wakefield and Leeds to ensure I don’t have that sinking feeling of seeing someone in my seat followed by five minutes of arguing before I can finally sit down and enjoy the journey, except even that might not help… the last guy I ‘helped out’ had found himself in the correct seat – sadly in the wrong carriage…

The final ten miles of the journey proved more problematic than the previous 180, upon realising at Vauxhall that South West Trains will not be providing anything resembling a service, and it was a frazzled Anonymous Don who arrived at Kingsmeadow with a new-found respect for far-flung Dons who make such journeys on a regular basis… frazzled and confused to be more precise, as to why the programme sellers all appeared to be on strike?

Fortunately the full story was explained to me later (for those of you who don’t know the Conference have decided to withdraw punishment for not producing a programme as too many clubs are losing way too much money on unsold copies after recent postponements). And the lack of an official programme can only be seen as a Good Thing from an Anonymous Don perspective, as it was my turn to offer the editorial for the Xmas edition of the WUP, and thus my offering was in a more prominent position than it normally is. How great it was to see those of you who normally stuff the WUP in your back pocket for use later as toilet paper/reading, actually reading it in the stadium… if I had known that I would have written it a little differently i.e. good. Two years ago the WUP produced a substitute programme for a South London club who could not produce their own due to financial problems… plus ca change, as the Romans would have said…

More evidence that we had somehow overnight turned into a Sunday morning pub side was provided upon hearing the team lineups… only one centre half and three on the bench, on of whom was Jack Turner. Apparently a virus has struck down the squad, leading to six members of the side to phone in sick with a couple of those who actually made it onto the field showing symptoms… at least that was their excuse.

Then finally… we saw some football, the first time a Don had kicked a ball in anger in a Conference game for over a month – and yet we were still top of the league prior to kick off despite Newports earlier victory… weird. Naturally there was some rustiness, and although the Dons looked on top they didn’t quite threaten the visitors goal with the frequency we would expect given the amount possession was dominated. In fact it was Frazer Franks who struck the bar with the home teams best effort in the first half hour, with Jamie Taylor threatening for the visitors with a floated effort that struck the top of Sebb Browns crossbar. 

The Dons were playing more of an orthodox 442 with Nwokeji up front alongside Kedwell and Jackson and Yusseff patrolling right and left wings respectively, Jackson more out-and-out winger with Toks willing to come inside and allow Chris Bush to bomb past him and get the crosses in. The switch to 442 was probably dictated by who wasn’t available than a definite change in tactics from Brown. The fact we can play either will help mix things up a bit going into a heavy January, Danny Kedwell has seemed a little isolated chasing lost causes of late, and it helped knowing Nwokeji was there to provide an outlet.

And it was Nokkers who had the Dons next best chance, put through by a well weighted Wellard through ball, he was either cynically hacked down for a penalty or just fell over depending on your view of it. I was looking side on so couldn’t really tell, which must have been a similar position to the referee who failed to point to the spot or sho Nwokeji a yellow card. Of course if Nokkers had kept his feet he could have scored, why would he go down in that position? But then footballers do the strangest things some times, particularly those who are yet to find the net in the league (as of that moment…).

I have always regarded Eastbourne as likeable if combative opponents, with the obvious exception of their pantomime villain ex-franchise striker Richard Pacquette, who was receiving the sort of stick you would expect of someone who had taken Their coin. More experienced players than Pacquette have fallen victim to the antics of the Tempest (hello Frank Sinclair!), yet few have resorted to the sort of studs up outrage that poor Sebb Brown was victim to.

Pacquette, with blood visibly rushing to his head, raced on to a through ball a bit too soon and was caught offside. With the whistle already gone and the ball safely back in Browns hands, Pacquette took four or five steps before launching himself at the defenceless goalkeepers head. The red card was immediate, although amazingly Eastbourne manager Wilson thought it acceptable to defend his player. His precise quote was ‘he just tried to win the ball and there was no intent to hurt the goalkeeper’. Really? I can only presume he was looking the other way when the incident happened, the ball was in Browns hands so how exactly was he planning on winning the ball?

Unfortunately the only conclusion that can be drawn was Pacquette had every intention of taking the Dons goalkeeper out of the game. Under these circumstances it might be wise for Wilson to sit down and watch the incident again (he might want to pour himself a stiff drink first…), and reconsider his comments. Under the circumstances an apology to the young Dons keeper might be in order, but I doubt he’ll see one, but Wilson might want to refrain from idiotic comments in future, especially if he is still interested in taking a certain clubs talented fringe players on loan…

Sebb Brown showed great bravery in continuing, particularly considering the blood he shed leading to stitches being required for a punctured cheek as well as an eye wound. Fortunately the Dons did their best to ensure the stopper had a quiet afternoon from that point on, with much of the game except for a ten minute spell in the second half taking place in the Eastbourne half. Yet it took until the last-minute of the half for the home side to break the deadlock.

A short corner routine almost broke down after Sam Hattons low cross was blocked by an Eastbourne defender, but the ball simply bounced off him and rolled invitingly across the six yard line for Nwokeji to slam home. Yusseff had another chance to extend the lead in injury time but blazed over when well placed, and the Dons had to accept a single goal lead going into the break.

Steven Gregory seemed to pick up a knock earlier in the half, and was obviously unable to run it off as he was withdrawn at half time replaced by Reece Jones (Jon Main being the other outfield substitute). The only previous league appearance I remember Jones making was at Rushden, when bought on to change the game only for it to pass him by a little. Yet here Jones really excelled, presumably the spell on loan at Lewes had given him the taste for first team football, he moved the ball around nicely and was willing to get himself forward wherever possible – in fact he came very close to extending the Dons lead twice in quick succession, denied on both occasions by the quick reactions of Eastbourne keeper Rikki Banks.

With certain Dons players starting to tire, presumably due to the twin effects of virus and lack of recent match action, Jon Main was brought on to give Ryan Jackson a rest, with Nwokeji moving out to the right to accommodate him. To be fair Main wasn’t fortunate enough to get the sort of chance Nwokeji had earlier in the game, and will have to accept he is further down the pecking order now Nokkers is fit and scoring goals. You still get the impression if he gets a few starts he will score goals, he did look hesitant when in possession but that’s only to be expected. I still believe Jon Main will have a big role to play later in the season if he can grab a few goals from the bench, but he was to be frustrated once more during this cameo.

In fact the Dons had to wait until ten minutes from time before doubling their advantage, Wellard found all alone in the penalty area as the Eastbourne defence pushed out too late and stood static waiting for a flag that was never going to come. Wellard shrugged his shoulders, scratched his arse, adjusted his shinpads before finally deciding to slide the ball into the bottom corner.

The aforementioned Main was involved in the third, unable to get his shot away, the ball broke nicely for Toks who did what he failed to do at the end of the first half, curling the ball into the top left corner of the net beyond a helpless Banks. The late goals gave a pleasant gloss to the scoreline and was no less than the Dons deserved, although the score and performance in general was probably as good as the Dons could have expected given the circumstances.

So the Dons end the year top of the division, an immense achievement. With so many games to follow in January logic suggests our monied rivals will have the edge, but if Brown can reinforce in the right areas, who knows? While we remain top of the league the dream continues, and long may it do so…

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Eastbourne Borough 2 AFC Wimbledon 3

I do like to be beside the seaside, especially when it ends with the Dons topping the table…

This was the sort of away game that makes you wish every game could be like this… a million miles from slogging up the M1 in midweek to watch crap. As soon as I set foot off the train I knew this would be different. For a start, I’d heeded a two-day weather forecast and therefore found myself clad in a waterproof top that was earning its money, if only to hold all the sweat in. Fortunately, this was one of those very rare away trips that involved an overnight stay, so I had the chance to change clothes and grab a quick beer in my sea-front hotel before jumping in a taxi to the ground.

The reason for the luxurious travel arrangements was down to the first appearance at a Dons game by Mrs Anonymous Don since Maidenhead at home almost two seasons ago… a fixture notable for the opening of the Strank Stand extension (which we sat in), a 4-1 home victory…. oh, and the first appearance in a Dons shirt of our current captain. You have to wonder where we would be right now without Danny Kedwell. Would we still be scrapping in the BSS? It’s possible… Jon Main’s goals may have taken us most of the way there, but Kedwells input was huge, as was his contribution last season when we couldn’t rely on Main.

Speaking of JM, he found himself on the bench for this one after an ineffective start to the campaign. Whether this is just him getting used to the new system or not, I don’t know. I mentioned in the Rushden report how isolated he looked. For all his hard work tracking back, he is being asked to perform a role that Christian Jolley is just far more effective at. Young Jolley got his chance from the start this time around, things may be a bit different when Newport roll into town on Monday, if Main starts we need not read any more into this than he needed a rest…

In Ricky Wellards absence, we saw the first start from Lee Minshull after his rather unfortunate suspension, and judging by his performance I think he has been missed. His passing was as crisp as Gregory or Moore, yet he brings a physical presence we miss when he isn’t there. I don’t want to overstate his size, it’s not a key factor in his game… but it helps. Lee managed to get himself on the score sheet, yet also managed to give away the free kick that helped the hosts back into the game…

As far as Eastbourne were concerned, you couldn’t wish for a nicer place to go or nicer club to visit. As far as the game was concerned, we faced the divisions top scorers and they showed their early attacking potential – it’s great to come across a side with limited resources who don’t just ‘park the bus’… I’m sure they would have created a whole lot more had Jamie Taylor not found the deck more often than I seem to remember him doing when he played for us, and Richard Pacquette reminded everyone he is only in the game for the pay packet.

As the half progressed Wimbledon came into it more and more, once Kedwell opened the scoring with a near post effort that seemed to pass through Rikki Banks in the home goal. If the Dons used up a bit of fortune with that effort, the hosts rode theirs for the rest of the half, with some woeful finishing capping off wonderful passing moves as Wimbledon threatened to run riot. I’d love to write more about the half, but I spent most of it explaining to the missus what was going on; and why, no, the man standing behind us was by no means an expert despite shouting quite loudly!

The early second half followed a similar pattern to the first. This time the Dons managed to hit the woodwork twice before finally adding to the score, first a Minshull floated cross/shot effort bouncing clear from the top corner via the inside of the post, then Steven Gregory smacking one off the bar, all in the space of a few seconds. Finally, Luke Moore found Lee Minshull at the far post, who made no mistake with his header to double the Dons lead, and with Luton losing, send us top of the league.

Of course an Eastbourne win would have taken them top, and despite the odds looking like they were firmly against them, they set about clawing their way back into the game. They managed it, to their credit, thanks to a couple of well worked free kicks. I could highlight the soft underbelly that was the Dons defending for both of these goals, yet that can wait for another day. Defending like that will come back to haunt the Dons if it becomes habit, we can only hope for an improvement as the season progresses (with fingers very much crossed…)

The day had been building up to one moment. Eastbourne had helped out by pushing for the win themselves, which left space for Sam Hatton to pick up the ball deep in his own half. He cut through Eastbourne before picking out Danny Kedwells run and threading the ball through to him. The captain rounded Banks, before sidefooting home, sending AFC Wimbledon top of the non-League game for the first time. Watching from the side, what a wonderful view it was watching those Dons fans behind the goal jumping around – I haven’t seen celebrations like that for some time…

I missed what must have been an interesting train ride home, but it was worth it to spend an evening watching over the water from a pub, supping a pint, just enjoying the moment. In 24 hours time the Dons may relinquish top spot, and may not regain it for some time. But at that moment… well, it didn’t seem to matter much.

Apologies for the trunkated nature of report for what was an action packed game, very much more to follow in the second part of the Dons Bank Holiday double when they return to action tomorrow against Newport…

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Second Thoughts… Eastbourne Borough 11.8.09

Well it only seemed like yesterday that I posted the match report…

Plenty up for discussion this time around. As a blog that has been described as ‘essential for Dons fans’ (that is a true quote by the way…) it would be wrong of me not to explore first a comment that has been made by several people so far. That is, the ‘only one goal from two games, and that was a penalty’ comment. As I said in pre-season, I would be more worried if we weren’t creating chances at all, but as it is, we aren’t scoring because we aren’t making enough of these opportunities rather than creating nothing.

Whereas last year the players seemed to gell pretty quickly, this season players are having difficulty reading each other. Its not surprising, given last year we were in a part time league. Before the season kicked off, we had fifteen training session. The first eight or so dealt with fitness (and for what its worth, we do look very fit.), leaving little time to work on what Terry refers to as ‘pattern of play’.

And before anyone mentions we played a fellow part time club on Tuesday, bear in mind their is a difference between a clubs professional status and their experience. Eastbourne had a one year head start on us on Tuesday, and it turned out to be a massive advantage to them.

The large number of games mean the side should come together pretty quickly, if we have difficulty hitting the net into September I may start to feel some concern. The Tuesday/Saturday pattern will help us recover quicker, if goals and a win don’t come at Kettering (and in my opinion we should go there expecting little) we have Salisbury, then Altrincham.

Anyway, time constraints have forced me to shorten my babbling, so I’ll cut straight to the chase – those match ratings you all love so much!

Pullen    5

Garrard    4

Hussey    5

Gregory    5

Lorraine    6

Johnson    6

Duncan    6

Taylor    5

Kedwell    5

Main    4

Godfrey    4

SUBS

Hatton    5

Moore    6

Again, some low marking even by my own very harsh standards. To explain. I thought my Dons man of the match was Johnson, him and Lorraine performed exactly to my expectations. Moore’s half hour cameo would have been worth more had it been longer, that’s not exactly his fault but on a bad day at least he can hold his head up.

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Eastbourne Borough 1 AFC Wimbledon 0 – A Match Report

farnboro 001After pondering how long AFC Wimbledons unbeaten run will carry on for after the Luton game, I now find myself wondering when this nightmare run without a win will last. Statistics don’t improve our situation. Our last win away from Kingsmeadow was in February against Thurrock. That means that this very blog has never had the pleasure of reporting on an AFC Wimbledon victory away from Kingsmeadow.

If we fail to win at Kettering but break our duck at Altrincham I’ll start to worry. See, I won’t actually be at Altrincham, and I’m not a superstitious man… well’, except for if I accidentally brush against something, when I have the overwhelming desire to brush it again with whichever body part made contact – just on the opposite side of me, just to ‘balance myself up’. Naturally this can cause some problems when I brush against a person… But enough of my possibly undiagnosed OCD, seriously, lets get a win over Kettering so I don’t have to worry about it any more.

But lets go back to the beginning and relive a day of missed opportunities all over again. I managed to wangle myself a lift to this one, so I had no need to worry about the chronic lack of legroom anyone over 5’10”, or the desperate rush to catch a train after the game. The problem was, on the way down, we had to meet our driver at Lingfield. It was a strange feeling at Clapham as I watched a handful of Dons get on the Eastbourne train while I waited for the one after.

A delayed train and a spot of traffic meant we didn’t get anything to eat, and I managed to wangle out of the responsibility of waiting in the queue for burgers at the ground by all of a sudden having to rush off and take some important photos. The amateur photography really only took a couple of minutes, meaning for the rest of the time I could unwittingly break the ground rules on several occasions by smoking far more cigarettes than I needed to… this is what happens when I can’t have a drink beforehand to settle the nerves.

That burger queue in full...

That burger queue in full...

In fact the only mistake Eastbourne Borough made that evening that really united certain Dons fans of all ages in absolute disgust was those constant tannoy announcements urging us not to smoke under covered areas. In the away section this meant either leaning over the barrier onto the pitch, or hanging around outside the toilets like some kind of sex pest… The only place I actually smoke these days are football grounds, I’m a non smoker for the rest of the week, don’t take it away from me. Please?!

An hour or so later my companions shuffled out from behind the bars of the refreshments hatch (not that kind of bar unfortunately), however the game had been underway for around ten minutes by this time. So what did they miss? Well, nothing, they were in full view of the pitch the whole time, but their absence meant I had no-one to ponder a few aspects of the evening that hour had robbed us of. Like why the Eastbourne mascot appeared to be a man with tracksuit bottoms on and half a walnut suit covering his upper torso.

Oh, and a couple of Dons chances. On four minutes a short corner was played to Derek Duncan, who floated the ball into the box. Danny Kedwell rose highest but planted his header straight into Eastbourne keeper Danny Knowles arms. Knowles was beaten a couple of minutes later, Chris Hussey taking the opportunity to fire a free kick toward goal from just outside the box, wide right, as The Sports seemed to anticipate a cross. Unfortunately he didn’t get the trajectory quite right, and the ball curled harmlessly wide of the left post.

Even at this stage, anything other than a Dons victory seemed an unlikely result. Wimbledon were winning most of the battles in midfield, and while Main and Kedwell didn’t seem entirely as sharp as we would expect, the downright shambles that was the Eastbourne defence more than made up for it.

Priory Lane... The new NASA Mars test centre

Priory Lane... The new NASA Mars test centre

Ten minutes in, and under no pressure, an Eastbourne defender lazily hit a ball across his own box towards a teammate wide right, only for Jon Main to stick a leg out and intercept. Main had the chance of a run on goal, but to be fair to the covering player he did well to prevent Main swinging the ball round him into the right corner. Main then awkwardly knocked it to his right with the outside of his boot for the onrushing Kedwell, perhaps just too far ahead of him, allowing Knowles to narrow the angle.

Still, you would have put your money on Keds to put it away from there, yet he struck it firmly over the keeper, and over the bar. Thinking back, I think it was at this point that I realised Wimbledon needed to score before The Sports sorted themselves out, and perhaps the players did too, such was the nature of how they snatched at chances during the remainder of the half.

Eastbourne created a half decent chance of their own, when Jamie Pullen punched a deep cross clear before taking a big tumble over a couple of players, leaving the ball to drop to an Eastbourne player. It would be unfair to say the goal was at his mercy, but there was a very clear channel he could have placed the ball into. Fortunately for Wimbledon he panicked and dragged it wide.

Having spent the opening twenty minutes wondering when the Dons goal might come, the prospect of Eastbourne nicking a goal and riding their luck struck me for the first time. I never for one second thought I would be right, the positive side of my mind still outweighed the negative, and Wimbledon kept pushing forward. All they needed was something to bounce in off someones knee/face/backside to take some pressure off, then it would have been a case of how many Wimbledon would win by.

Waiting for the ball...

Waiting for the ball...

This was not to be The Dons lucky day however, demonstrated by a couple of successive corners around the half hour mark. The first ended with an unidentified Don striking towards goal only for the shot to deflect of a defender, bounce up and continue in the direction of Jon Main, standing directly in front of the keeper. Main only had to get the faintest of touches to confuse the keeper, which he did, the ball then striking a hopeful arm Knowles had left up, before the ball rolled clear for a corner.

The second was worked to Derek Duncan who hit a really great looking ball that somehow didn’t get the required touch from either Don or Eastbourne player that would have diverted it into the net. Another corner a couple of minutes later, this time sweetly struck in by Elliott Godfrey was too high for Kedwell and his marker, and agonisingly missed by Brett Johnson who had made a run around the back and literally thrown himself at the ball.

It was Brett Johnson who epitomised the Dons defensive dominance when he snuffed out a great opportunity for Eastbourne. Matt Crabb carried the ball forward, with a backtracking Johnson the only player to beat. With all the momentum it looked as though the Sports man would have a clear run on goal, until Johnson stuck a foot in and nicked the ball.

Still, no goals came at the other end. Attacking the vast hordes of Wimbledon fans with minutes to go to half time, the ball found its way to Godfrey. Usually such a sweet striker of the ball, Godfrey struck the ground rather than the ball, throwing up a huge amount of sand and diverting it into the path of the onrushing Steven Gregory. Such was the Dons luck that his firm strike failed to test Knowles, hitting the only Eastbourne man blocking his way to goal, who actually looked as though he was trying to get out of the way more than anything.

farnboro 024Half time came, and Dons fans had worried looks on their faces. Rightly so, as it only took four second half minutes for the goal to come – for the hosts. Ex Dons trainee Neil Jenkins found the ball it his feet on the left, with no sign of Luke Garrard (actually, where was Garrard? He could have been at the bar for all I know…), and with Lewis Taylor caught upfield and left with no chance of getting back.

Still the remaining Dons defenders didn’t bust a gut to get across and close him down, perhaps expecting a pass to come. Instead Jenkins sauntered forwards, had a quick look at his options, then struck the ball firmly across the helpless James Pullen and into the top right corner. We had been well and truly suckered, I was stunned to the point I couldn’t even find any choice words to throw at Jenkins, as he stood in front of me celebrating seemingly for my benefit alone (I swear he was looking right into my eyes…).

The Dons response was disappointingly predictable. Too much urgency, trying to hit it long when perhaps persisting with trying to play through Eastbourne may have borne decent chances, rather than half chances and misfortune. In other words, why try and play the percentage game when you already know the odds are stacked firmly against you? This wasn’t helped by Eastbournes reluctance to allow more than four of their own players to cross the half way line at any one time. That’s by no means a criticism of the Sports by the way, they did what they had to do and lest we forget earned the points because of it.

It was seven minutes into the half when we saw our next example of Wimbledon misfortune. A Hussey freekick was punched away by Knowles a la Pullen in the first half. This time Duncan was on hand to intelligently head back over the keeper, although he did recover to get close enough for the referee to give the Dons an unlikely corner as the ball bounced off the corner of bar and post.

farnboro 041Shortly after a brilliantly timed challenge by Paul Lorraine cut short an Eastbourne break, maybe not as vital as Johnson’s in the first half but beautifully timed enough to deserve comment. It was Duncan who came closest to scoring shortly after. He overran the ball while moving from right to left on the edge of the penalty area, only to hit it on the stretch forcing Knowles into a smart stop low to his right.

It is this type of effort that makes you realise we were never going to take anything from this game. At first it seems like a standard effort, if Duncan had kept his feet and got a better strike it may have caused more problems, but the more you think about it, the more you remember seeing goals like it.

On another day a stray defender could have unsighted the keeper, or the keeper could have slipped, or the ball hit a bobble lifting it over the keeper. While you shouldn’t expect luck like this, with the amount of chances Wimbledon created you might think we could have earned a slice of fortune. In fact it seems stranger that we didn’t get that bit of luck…

Wimbledon’s best chance of the game came with twenty-five minutes remaining. A deep Luke Moore cross bounced before falling for Lewis Taylor, steaming in. A stretching Taylor got his head on the ball, but Knowles read the situation, moving to his left to not only keep the header out, but more gallingly to actually catch it.

With just over twenty minutes to go a persistent Jon Main run saw him stab the ball right to Lewis Taylor shortly before being dispossessed. Taylor hit a low hard ball into the box of such quality a goal seemed inevitable, or would have done on any other day, instead following a well worn pattern onrushing Dons players were either too early or too late.

Eastbourne managed their second shot on target on seventy five minutes, a free kick hit by ex-Don Jamie Taylor beating the wall but well smothered by Jamie Pullen down to his right post. Pullen did well in what he had to do, however will find himself marked down due to some incredibly careless distribution, including knocking a forty yard ball some twenty yards ahead of Chris Hussey and out of play. 

Eastbourne could have ended the game with ten minutes to go, Crabb flicking a looping header a couple of yards wide of the Dons right post. This only prolonged the agony for the vast travelling support. The last real chance fell to Luke Moore, who took the initiative and ran at Eastbourne through the left channel, hitting a sweetly struck shot that would have caused Knowles some problems if it had flown a couple of yards either side of him, the keeper gratefully clutching the ball into his chest.

This was followed by five further minutes of Eastbourne running down the clock. Again this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of Eastbourne, although to point the finger where it is due, the Sports Dan Brown deserves his knob of the week award for trying to – whoops! – accidentally lob Pullen from an uncontested drop ball on the half way line. Seriously, this publicity seeking jerk should be shipped off to Bromley where that sort of behaviour is accepted… he doesn’t deserve to play for a club like Eastbourne if that’s how he is going to behave.

On the whole though, Eastbourne put in a professional performance across the ninety, which as a semi-pro club in a largely professional league is perhaps a lesson Wimbledon will do well to learn, and fast…

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Eastbourne Borough v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

ebfcThe games do really come think and fast early in the season. Do I really need to write a preview yet? Yes! I won’t take a break tomorrow in order to leave work early, then I need to head off for Eastbourne at 4.30. I’m going to Eastbourne via Lingfield, as a friend of mine is going racing and its worth getting picked up from there in order to benefit from a lift back to Anonymous Dons Towers in Surbiton Village.

While I’m on the subject of that small part of Surbiton between Maple Road and the river that doesn’t really exist unless you are an estate agent, or like me a snobbish social climber who wishes to clarify they definitely don’t live in one of the ghetto areas of town… Anyway, back to the point. I had a nasty case of the Mondays today, and I only snapped out of it while walking down a side road that leads to where I live. I spotted a Dons sticker in the window of a blue Subaru parked down there, which reminded me that Tuesday will bring football, our first away trip of the season, and all the excitement that entails. So, to the owner of that vehicle, thanks a lot! (And by the way, of you live down that particular street, get in touch… you may have the pleasure of becoming the Anonymous Dons personal chauffeur at some stage in the future…).

So all this filling is down to the fact that, erm… I don’t really know too much about Eastbourne Borough. Now they were one of the few clubs I managed to knock out a Conference File for (and for those of you who missed it – https://anonymousdon.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/the-conference-files-eastbourne-borough/). A decent little club who appear to have a lot going for them… an opinion I will backtrack on in my match report if they manage to beat us…

Anyway, The Dons find themselves carrying the tag of Unbeaten In The Conference – Ever into this game. Failing to continue our winning start of season record is tempered by the fact that the last time a Wimbledon team lost on opening day was to a certain Manchester United in 1996…

Eastbourne will be looking for their first points of the season after dropping 0-3 to a Wrexham side that sound like they might be a bit of a handful this season, and probably fancy their chances of taking points off the Dons. It seems like a big crowd is expected, with the game all-ticket for Dons fans (except for those who turn up on the night with no colours…). Having taken a look at the Eastbourne side for that game, no-one leaps out except for Danny Knowles who used to play for Grays and Woking (I think…) and the much travelled Simon Weatherstone (much travelled in that I know he has played for a few Conference sides, just I can’t remember which!).

I’m on safer ground with striker Jamie Taylor… yes, that Jamie Taylor, who scored some belters for us some five years ago now (it seems so long ago…). Finally, The Sports manager Garry Wilson has guided them to where they are today from County level, but more importantly used to play or the brilliantly named Kirkintilloch Rob Roy FC…

On to the Dons. Terry Brown certainly seems confident, yet he has no reason not to be. This is where the squad really comes into play, and my expected team lineup is a follows;

442

Pullen

Garrard

Duncan

Lorraine

Johnson

Moore

Taylor

Gregory

Hatton

Kedwell

Main

SUBS

Brown

Judge

Godfrey

Hussey

Rapson

Not sure I can justify this as anything more than a hunch, but like Saturday I might be close with the 1-11 but Terry could have them playing in any formation. Moore for example could have a free role behind the front two, or on the left. If Moore plays behind the front two expect Hussey to come in at left back and Derek Duncan to move forward, Hatton would presumably be sacrificed in this situation. Hatton could also miss out if Terry favours Wellard, or gives Godfrey another go instead.

With both Kedwell and Main starting, its a chance for Rapson to take his place on the bench, unless Moore doesn’t start of course. In that situation Moore will be there as a replacement forward – a situation that those who missed pre-season are in for a treat, as he works so hard for the team. Of course there is a chance that Moore could even start upfront, especially if Kedwell isn’t as fit as he made out to the papers last week…

Picking the starting lineup seems nigh on impossible when you sit and work out the potential variations – yet last time out I got 9/11 starters… how close will I be this time. Only Terry knows…

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The Conference Files – Eastbourne Borough

Well, the Conference Files is supposed to be released in alphabetical order, but as you may have noticed the Ebbsfleet and Forest Green entries were released before this. So apologies for all of you who have been waiting to read my opinion on EBFC, also known as The Sports, better late than never, eh?

My first encounter with the club must have been during the early/mid nineties when I noticed my local team, Kingstonian, were having difficulty overcoming a Sussex County side called Langney Sports. They eventually progressed at I think the third time of asking. Ten years or so later I noticed a club called Eastbourne Borough had taken a place in the newly formed Conference South, eventually winning promotion the season before we did.

If you don’t know much about Eastbourne Borough, and you have never heard of Langney Sports, you might be forgiven for thinking they appeared out of nowhere. And you’ll be right in thinking so, however that would be to ignore the forty years or so of hard work that has gone into getting the club where it is today.

HISTORY

“Resurrecting the club from its ashes as, say, ‘Wimbledon Town’ is, with respect to those supporters who would rather that happened so that they could go back to the position the club started in 113 years ago, not in the wider interests of football”.

The above comment was regarded by Wimbledon supporters as the ultimate kick in the teeth by the 3 man commission that gave Wimbledon FC permission to move to Milton Keynes. It served no purpose to the report itself, and if anything it went on to inspire us to take our own AFC Wimbledon to where they are today.

There are always going to be petty, nasty individuals involved in the running of our game, as Langley Sports found themselves some twenty-five years ago, when on attempting to gain election to the Sussex County League they encountered a local FA councillor whose opinion that they ‘were and would only ever be a parks side’… I’m sure those words have been used to motivate those at the club ever since.

The Sports did of course start as a  parks side, as so many clubs have. However while the likes of the Old Centrals were kicking off on Wimbledon Common towards the end of the century before last, Langney Sports kicked off in 1964. Once in the county league they didn’t take long making an impact, moving up the divisions until winning the Sussex League in 2000.

And their upward urge continued into the Southern League, winning promotion from the Eastern Division to the Premier League just in time for reorganisation to mean an 11th place finish was good enough for a place in the Conference South. From there The Sports went on to won the Conference South playoffs twice, however first time out their 3-0 win over Cambridge City meant a further playoff with the Northern playoff winners Altrincham, a game they lost 1-2. Second time round there was to be no mistakes, as they took care of perennial chokers Trumpton 2-0.

LAST SEASON

Eastbourne Borough finished their historic first season in the Conference Premier with a solid 13th place finish, only dropping out of the top half of the table after a final day defeat by Barrow. Barrow also knocked them out of the FA Cup at the first round stage, the furthest they have achieved (although they had played in this round twice before).

THE CLUB

ebfcThe Sports made history last summer by becoming the first football club to register as a Community Interest Company (CIC), demonstrating their dedication to their local area. Langley Sports club doubles as a venue for a number of other sports (indeed one of the companies four key strategies is ‘to continue the development and growth of the Indoor Bowls Club’.

I can’t help thinking how brilliant that is. I mean we are a club owned by our fans, but at the moment we are by no means at the heart of our community (although I’m not going to open that can of worms right now…). I’d love to think at any future stadium in Wimbledon the Dons Trusts objective could extend beyond Ladies and Youth football and towards tarting the best darts team in South London.

Anyway, a CIC means the club has to plough any profits back into the facilities at Langley Sports Club. It’s great to see a local club has committed itself to its community, and without sacrificing its ambition. Another strategy is ‘to continue to strive for success in the Football Pyramid’, and to that extent The Football League is the clubs next aim, proving they aren’t afraid to dare to dream.

THE GROUND

Another ground we should enjoy visiting, although it is on the small side it looks as though it can more than cope with large crowds, of which they have had many in recent years including their record gate of 3770 against Oxford United in 2005. The ground has cover on all four sides, and they have added two extra rows of seating to their Main Stand over the summer.

The away end is pretty small in keeping with the ground, and is the end to the right when viewed from the main stand. The opposite end has an unusual feature of a viewing lounge above the terrace, adding character to the ground. The Sports managed to pull in over 1300 on average last season, a significant rise on their promotion season even taking into account travelling supporters. For a reasonably close away trip we should expect to take in the region of 800 fans down there for a Saturday game, rising considerably should the game take on extra meaning. Or as I predicted, should it be the first game of the season!

ADMISSION

Eastbourne haven’t released matchday prices (or they don’t appear to like advertising them!), but I will put together a comparison of the whole league before the season starts for your information.

PREVIOUS

AFC Era – None

All time Wimbledon – None

Another new opponent for us to welcome!

LINKS

Eastbourne Borough O/S – http://www.eastbourneboroughfc.co.uk/Home/Home.htm

Eastbourn Borough Forum – http://eborosupporter.proboards.com/index.cgi?

EBFC Mad – http://www.eastbourneborough-mad.co.uk/

EBFC Supporters Club – http://ebfcsc.synthasite.com/

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Opening Day

My attention was drawn this morning to the following link…

http://www.conferenceforum.co.uk/cboard.mpl?action=View+Thread&thread=33896

Not because I actually believe it of course, after all isn’t it really strange how staff at businesses who sort out fixtures manage to get made redundant just at what I would presume is their firms busiest time of the year? 

As well as this, the WHAK spin off ‘What The Hell Are We Doing In Stratford?’ has already pointed out the fixtures are produced ‘manually’. I presume this means a series of unique rounds are produced, then inserted into the calendar for whenever they see fit. This explains how they get the Xmas/New Year derbies in place. The newsletter already pointed out the fixtures are produced after the League fixtures are published on Wednesday to avoid clashes.

Which means the person who posted this is a bit of a Billy Bullshitter. As you will remember from seasons past, there are normally a good few of these. If there are enough, there are only 46 possible fixtures we could have, so someone is bound to get it right. This plum has us as Altrincham away, and a few days ago frequent Anon Don commenter Kevin Smyth went for Grays Athletic away, one of the smallest away sections in the division as a worst case scenario.

So its time for me to weigh in with my guess opinion. I’m going to go for AFC Wimbledon v Eastbourne Borough. Feel free to join the game, and we’ll see who’s right on 3rd July (or before…).

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