Eastbourne Town 1 – 1 STCFC
Steyning Town came away from the Saffrons, the picturesque home of league leaders Eastbourne Town, with a very credible and well deserved 1-1 draw on Saturday. A powerful second-half header from Steyning stalwart Lewis Levoi from a Mayckol Sabino corner canceled out a first-half strike from the hosts and was a reward for a display full of grit & passion on a day where hard work was the order of the day to be able to go toe to toe with the leaders. Town did this very well and also played plenty of good football in spells and managed to knock Eastbourne out of their stride on a day where the hosts will feel they never really got going.
Town went into the game offering a full debut a centre-back to former Worthing FC and Saltdean FC man Matt Hurley, who slotted into a 3 man partnership with Gathern and Boiling in front of Conor Kelly back in the sticks. Maher and Clark took up their usual spots out wide. Faber and Levoi anchored the midfield behind Weston, and Romain and Sabino played together as a front two for the first time. Matt Hards was absent and Brotherton still out with injury. Radmore was on the bench, suffering from a severe case of man flu, alongside Bull, keeper Trigwell and youngsters Spano and Bloomfield.
After a lively start from both sides, the breakthrough came from the hosts on 14 minutes and it came in controversial circumstances. Eastbourne broke with pace and with numbers, a pattern for the afternoon, and a strong, pacey whipped in cross from the right was contested by Attwood and Gathern at the near post, the ball flew goalwards, struck the bar, bounced on the goal-line and was hooked to safety. Initially, the referee did not give the goal but he looked to his linesman, who had struggled to keep up with the pace of the attack, who signaled he believed the ball had crossed the line from a full 30 yards behind the play. Whether it had or not certainly formed much of the discussion of the afternoon, however the fact was Town found themselves a goal behind after a promising start was a bitter blow to take.
However it was not all doom and gloom, Steyning was finding themselves more than a match for their hosts. Sabino and Romain were holding the ball well upfront, and Weston was finding pockets of space in behind and his trickery earned a number of free-kicks in promising places, the best of which he curled straight at the keeper. At the other end, Kelly made a couple of fine saves from point blank range to keep the gap to one goal as the sides went in at the break.
Half time Eastbourne Town 1 Steyning Town 0
In the second half Steyning was playing with the crossfield wind slightly behind them, and playing down the hill they started to really get at their hosts, who were starting to give away an increasing number of fouls. Sabino was winning ball through sheer tenacity, and Clark was starting to win a lot of the ball down the right, making the most of the Town left-back being quite sluggish in getting to the ball when receiving out wide, Clark able to nip in front and drive forward on a number of occasions. Romain fired a shot wide and a Sabino free-kick over the bar were potential warning signs for the hosts.
The goal Steyning desperately needed came on 62 minutes. A Town shot was blocked and went out for a corner. Sabino swung the kick in from the right, and there was Levoi with a terrific leap at the far post, directing a powerful downward header that the Eastbourne rearguard could not keep out.
After this youngsters Bloomfield and Spano were entered in to the fray, replacing Sabino who had taking a hefty knock from a late tackle, and Weston who had been excellent all afternoon but was just starting to tire.
The hosts started to get a bit more urgency in to their play in the last 20 minutes and started to look more dangerous committing more players forward. We started to sit a bit deeper, leaving Bloomfield up front on his own and using his pace as an outlet, which was working pretty well. Just as it seemed like the the lads had earned a well fought our draw Eastbourne spurned a great chance with the last kick of the game. Steynings defence, which had been superb all afternoon, with Gathern, Hurley and Boiling all doing themselves proud, suddenly parted like the red sea, and the hosts front man suddenly found himself with just Kelly to beat. However much to the relief of the small travelling contingent, he miskicked twice from 6 yards when seeming certain to score. Relief all round as the final whistle went.
Well play to the Steyning lads. Although not the 3 points we are all desperate for after so many draws, but a promising display full of some good football and some real togetherness, and not just a defensive one at that. On another day we could have snuck away with all 3 points, but a draw seemed like a very fair result on the day against hosts who were clearly a long way off the levels that they can normally hit.
Next up its a return to the Birchwood Ground , Steyning on Tuesday evening with a home league game against AFC Uckfield. KO 7.45pm.
Steyning | Kelly, Clark, Maher, Boiling, Gathern (c), Hurley, Levoi, Weston, Faber, Sabino, Romain.
Subs used | Spano, Bloomfield
Not used | Bull, Radmore, Trigwell