Eastbourne Borough's battling qualities are one certainty of the National South season
In a season of uncertainty, one thing remains consistent – Eastbourne Borough will continue to fight for every cause.
They have proved it time and again already in this campaign - and they did it again when they visited leaders Dartford. Chris Whelpdale's first half header proved the difference as Borough completed the league double over the table-toppers
The three points at Princes Park move the Sports into the top five, just five points behind Steve King’s side with two games in hand.
Danny Bloor made one change from the weekend’s win against Hungerford, with James Vaughan returning at right-back having missed the previous two matches through injury.
Credit must go to the Dartford ground staff, who after covering the pitch overnight cleared the snow to get the game on. Neither keeper had much to do in the early exchanges, before the game burst into life after ten minutes. Steven James’ poor control at the back allowed Charlie Sheringham to break through on goal, but one on one with Franco Ravizzoli the striker got his chip all wrong and the ball went straight at the Borough keeper.
And the Sports went straight down the other end, as James Ferry found Whelpdale who had a go from outside the area but his low effort was saved by the diving Craig King.
The offside flag then denied Sheringham from opening the scoring after 15 minutes, before Charlie Lambert – fresh from scoring a brace on Saturday – saw two efforts go just off target within minutes of each other.
The Darts looked threatening going forward, but lacked the final pass to unlock a stern Borough back line – and when they did, Ravizzoli was on hand to deny them. A good move from the hosts saw Ricky Modeste play a first time ball through to Luke Allen, but through on goal his strike was tipped around the post by the outstretched Ravizzoli.
However, it was the Sports who broke the deadlock three minutes before half time. Greg Luer found space on the left, and he floated the ball in to Whelpdale who lost his marker before heading beyond the diving King from ten yards.
There was still time for the hosts to look for a response. Only a great block from Kai Innocent denied Nassim L’Ghoul’s overhead kick from troubling Ravizzoli, before Sheringham was again kept at bay by the Borough number one.
There was to be slight concern at the break, with Whelpdale taken off at half-time to be replaced by Dean Cox. Having had a heavy landing after heading in the goal, Bloor will be hopeful that he will be fit for the weekend.
Borough survived a scare early in the second half, when Ravizzoli didn’t get a clear punch away from a Dartford cross but neither Sheringham or L’Ghoul could get a shot away as Borough’s defence dealt with the threat and cleared.
Despite having limited possession, Borough still looked to cause their hosts problems on the counter. Vaughan’s ball over the top found Lambert, who teed up Luer but his low cross couldn’t find a blue shirt to tap in before Cox fired over after a good break from Joel Rollinson.
For all their attack, Dartford didn’t really test Ravizzoli in the second half. 11 minutes were left on the clock when the Argentine stopper was forced into a good save to turn Tom Bonner’s header over the bar before the hosts turned the screw in the final few minutes.
A corner eventually dropped to Sheringham twelve yards out, who saw his goalbound effort blocked by James Hammond on the line before Bonner headed the resulting corner against the bar and Connor Essam’s diving header from the rebound went wide.
But Borough stood firm, and after a lengthy stoppage time period they held on to secure their first league win at Dartford since 2003, and with it demonstrated yet again their character, desire and fight for the shirt.