Tag Archives: Langney Sports Club

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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