Charlton Athletic and Dorking help Borough stay match-ready

Eastbourne Borough’s run of demanding friendlies brought two defeats in four days, a narrow 1-0 reverse at Dorking Wanderers followed by a 5-1 implosion to a talented Charlton Athletic side.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:59 pm
Action from the Eastbourne v Charlton XI friendly / Picture: Andy Pelling

Manager Danny Bloor’s policy of keeping up the match fitness as well as the competitive edge has a clear purpose. If and when a newly welded National South and National North competition does become reality, the Sports will be ready.

But the flipside to match fitness is the risk of injuries, and both of this week’s games came with a casualty list. The narrow defeat at leaders Dorking, to a single first-half goal, saw three or four players pick up knocks.

Tuesday night’s starting line-up included several faces less familiar to supporters tuning into the now-regular live stream – and while there were some impressive individual performances, the team cohesion was sometimes lacking. And Bloor’s cause was hindered by three enforced changes during the first half.

Action from the Eastbourne v Charlton XI friendly / Picture: Andy Pelling

Visitors Charlton Athletic took full advantage. Their quick movement and piercing attacks brought two goals in the first ten minutes, and a further strike before half-time.

From that 0-3 deficit, the Sports came back strongly in the second half, and the balance of play was more even. The Division One club did find the net twice more, with brilliant team goals, but just on full time Jaden Perez popped in a consolation goal after fine work by Joel Rollinson and Leone Gravata.

Gravata had played with purpose and sharp close-control skills, while Charlie Towning was tireless in midfield, and Under-18 Tom Howard caught the eye with a performance beyond his years. Replacing Franco Ravizzoli in goal at half-time, Luke Glover was blameless for the two goals he let in and bossed his area well.

Bloor was unbowed. “Let’s emphasise that this was a training game, and I’m not concerned about the scoreline – albeit Charlton Athletic were outstanding, as good an attacking display as we’ve seen all season at Priory Lane.

“Tom Howard stood up really well in midfield, as did Charlie Towning, and it was good to introduce JJ Minty, another of our very successful youth team, in the final phase. We battled on right to the end.

“It’s been really difficult for players and management, still not knowing what is going on. We’ll re-assess the injuries and train again on Saturday. It was Charlie Walker’s birthday this week – so he’s bringing the cakes!!”