A last-gasp penalty from Nathaniel Pinney made the Hawks rue their missed chances as they had to settle for a point at Eastbourne Borough.
Danny Mills put the Hawks deservedly ahead in the first half, but Steve King’s side failed to turn chances into goals, and were made to pay six minutes into stoppage time when Pinney converted from twelve yards.
It was truly a game you couldn’t take your eyes off. This local derby had it all. Goals, missed chances, fantastic saves, and even saw both sides end the game with ten men.
Sam Deering had the first real effort on goal three minutes in, but his strike from 20 yards went straight at Lewis Carey.
The Hawks were looking dangerous going forward, with Jake Robinson then firing the ball across to Danny Mills, but he headed just wide of the near post, although it wouldn’t have counted due to the offside flag being raised.
Deering then floated the ball in from the right, and picked out Robinson, but his unorthodox overhead kick dropped wide of the far corner after 15 minutes.
Robinson was causing Borough all sorts of problems, with a clever back-heel blocked by Marvin Hamilton before Carey did well to save the striker’s goal-bound effort moments later.
Elliott Romain then should have done better with Borough’s clearest chance of the half to date midway through the opening period. Craig Stone launched a long ball which Nat Pinney headed down to Romain, who beat Nick Arnold to the ball, but could only lift the ball wide of the post having lobbed Craig Ross.
Ross then did brilliantly to keep out Romain, with Jack Evans playing in the Borough forward, but after beating Arnold, saw his low effort kept out by the outstretched foot of Ross.
Somehow the game continued to be goalless as it approached the half hour mark, but the Hawks came so close to taking the lead when Deering played through Mills, whose great strike 25 yards beat Carey, but only to cannon back off the bar.
However, the game did get its first goal and it came after a defensive error by Borough’s Hamilton. Deering whipped in a ball from the left, and Hamilton somehow missed the ball with his header and allowed an unmarked Mills to head in from six yards.
Carey was then at his best to prevent the Hawks going further ahead, with the Borough keeper pulling off a great fingertip save to turn Robinson’s strike from 25 yards around the post, before Deering was just off target after lobbing the ball over Carey from Arnold’s ball down the right.
Robinson then played the ball into the area, and picked out Jordan Rose, who brought the ball down well before seeing his strike saved by Carey. Mills then had a header from the resulting corner cleared off the line by Stone, before Scott Neilson fired off target for the Hawks as the first half drew to a close.
In first half stoppage time, Robinson almost made it 2-0 when Craig Braham-Barrett’s cross was met by a Robinson volley, but he couldn’t find the target.
Into the second period, Robinson fired a low drive narrowly wide of the far post after a corner dropped to the striker at the far post, before Ross did well to deny Pinney as Borough went on the counter attack.
Robinson then came close again, but his deflected effort from Deering’s corner went wide of the front post.
Borough pressed forward in search of an equaliser as the game wore on, with Romain beating Rose for pace on his way inside the area, but a shout for a penalty after Rose appeared to trip up Romain was waved away before Robinson broke forward on the counter, and one on one with Carey, saw his effort saved. Deering was first to the rebound, but mad a hash of it and eventually fired over the top.
Evans then forced a fantastic save from Ross, who turned the midfielder’s powerful free kick over the bar with a great save at full stretch as the Sports continued to put pressure on the Hawks’ goal.
With six minutes remaining, Pinney did well to skip past a challenge on his way into the area, but Ross did well to get a hand to his shot. Substitute Darren Lok looked destined to get on the end of the rebound, but Braham-Barrett did brilliantly to intercept the ball and put it behind for a corner.
The drama of this frantic derby was far from finished. With a minute of normal time to go, Evans was penalised for a high tackle on Sergio Torres, with the midfielder seeing red before a mass confrontation ensued. Kane Haysman and David Martin were booked for their parts in the melee.
With Borough down to ten men, the action wasn’t over. Pinney danced his way into the penalty area, and forced Ross into a good save. Arnold, who had already been booked, lunged in on Romain in a bid to get to the rebound inside the area in the fourth minute of added time, and Borough had a penalty, with Arnold sent off for his trouble. Pinney stepped up, and slammed the ball into the net, sending Ross the other way, and Borough were level.
Whitehawk were left to rue missed chances, with Steve King’s side slipping out of the play off zone following the draw.
Shots: EAS 8-17 WHK, Shots On Target: EAS 5-8 WHK, Corners: EAS 4-8 WHK, Fouls Committed: EAS 16-9 WHK, Offside: EAS 3-4 WHK, Bookings: EAS 2-4 WHK, Red Cards: EAS 1-1 WHK.
Photos by David Hunt