Yeovil Town extended their lead at the top of National League South to eight points with a hard-fought win at Eastbourne Borough.
A controversial first half goal from Frank Nouble sealed the three points. After 36 minutes, Rhys Murphy nicked the ball off hosts’ Freddie Carter from a drop ball and fed his strike partner who fired the game’s only goal.
The second half was an exercise in energy conservation as the visitors probed but could not find their way through a resolute backline.
With Torquay United and Maidstone United both defeated, the win stretched the Glovers lead heading in to a double header with Somerset rivals Taunton Town.
Here is how Dave saw the game from a chilly away end on the South Coast…..
Mark Cooper handed a debut to winger Courtney Senior, who signed on loan from National League Premier side Barnet on Friday night, with Charlie Cooper who dropped to the bench.
There was also a return among substitutes for left-back Alex Whittle, who had been missing through injury in recent weeks.
From the off it was clear this 3G pitch was going to take some getting used to. Not a drop of water had been put on it in a long time and it had zero bounce on it.
An early cross from the hosts’ Sam Beard fizzed a cross over the face of goal and the first sight of goal came from Sonny Blu Lo-Everton after good play from Frank Nouble after 13 minutes.
On 20 minutes, good work down the left side from Matt Worthington and Senior saw Worthy burst in to the box and almost pick out Rhys Murphy at the back post.
It was a moment of opportunism from Murphy led to an opening goal for the visitors after 36 minutes. A drop ball from the referee saw the striker nip in ahead of Carter and burst forward, play it across to NOUBLE who coolly finished.
There were protests led by Eastbourne skipper Brad Barry to referee Jack Bloxham, but one feels he may have more to complain about to Carter for his bizarre failure to contest the drop ball.
There was another chance fell to Murphy after a great through ball from Young on 42 minutes, but Foulkes was equal to it to turn it wide.
A red card seemed to be flashed at the Eastbourne bench, perhaps to manager Mark Beard, as protests towards the referee continued after the half-time whistle had been blown.
Half time: Eastbourne Borough 0 Yeovil Town 1
Within 30 seconds of the restart, the home side’s Callum Kealey broke away from the Yeovil defence but pulled his shot wide.
That set the tone for the 20 minutes which followed as the home side who continued to probe at the backline. Substitute Decarrey Sherriff had a shot from inside the box blocked by Sonny Blu Lo-Everton.
There was very little to excite the away support in an end which did little (nothing?) to foster an atmosphere. The arrival of Will Dawes in place of Senior on 64 minutes. Senior showed what he can bring to the side with good pace and flashes of an ability to take of defenders and Cooper will have been pleased with his start.
A minute later Foulkes got in just ahead of Morgan Williams to claim a looping free-kick from Young, before a good combination between Kealey and Leone Gravata almost released Kealey.
Substitute Fletcher Holman almost made an instant impact after coming on 67 minutes, b
ut his shot flew over. On 74 minutes, the first meaningful chance of the second half fell to Young who curled his shot wide.
But, with games coming up on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, the Glovers showed a control to see out the game which, say it quietly, is the hallmark of a promotion side.
For now we’ll settle for an even more comfortable gap at the top of the division. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Full time: Eastbourne Borough 0 Yeovil Town 1
Venue: Priory Lane
Date: Saturday 23rd December – 3pm kick-off
Competition: National League South
Pitch: A rock solid slab of plastic
Conditions: Dry and cool
Scorers: Frank Nouble 36 (1-0)
Yeovil Town: Frank Nouble 38,
Eastbourne Borough: Jack Paxman 30, Sam Beard 45,
Referee: Jack Bloxham
Yeovil Town (4-4-2)
Substitutes: Will Dawes (for Courtney Senior, 64),Charlie Cooper (for Rhys Murphy, 77), Alex Whittle (not used), Josh Owers (not used), Alex Fisher (not used).
Eastbourne Borough: Harrison Foulkes, Scott Leslie (for Fletcher Holman, 67), Brad Barry, Jack Clarke (for Imran Uche, 82), Jack Paxman (for Decarrey Sheriff, 55), Freddie Carter, Louis Collins, Leone Gravata, Billy Vigar, Sam Beard, Callum Kealey.
Substitutes (not used): Dan Quick, Lucas Defise.