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[FM21] "What Do You Hope The Future Will Be?" "We Might Go To Eastbourne"

Gunner 101

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Having decided that my first save of FM21 would be at National League South side Eastbourne Borough I thought it would be a good idea to update here. The idea for the save came having watched the FA Cup First Round tie between Eastbourne Borough & Blackpool recently.  Nicknamed "The Sports" (owing to their founding name of Langley Sports back in 1964) Eastbourne have spent the last 9 seasons in the Vanarama National League South. Their highest finish in that time has been 10th back in 2013/14 whilst they've finished 18th in each of the  last three seasons. The media prediction for the forthcoming season aptly predicts another 18th place finish. This year the VNS will only have 21 teams participating (owing in part to Bury's demise and COVID-19) therefore only one side will be relegated. From 2021/22 it's anticipated that 24 teams will participate so it will be interesting to see how the game reflects this. 

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The way I set up my games is to look at the transfers made by the teams competing in the particular division I wish to manage in and then load those nations along with those that the game recommends. This has meant I'm left with the following for this save:

                                                                                                                                          - England - Vanarama National League North/South and above
                                                                                                                                          -  Australia - A-League only
                                                                                                                                          - Belgium - First Amateur Division and above
                                                                                                                                          - Bulgaria - Second League and above
                                                                                                                                          - Canada - Premier League only
                                                                                                                                          - Denmark - 2.Division and above
                                                                                                                                          - France - National 2 and above
                                                                                                                                          - Germany - 3.Liga and above
                                                                                                                                          - Holland - Keuken Kampioen Divisie and above
                                                                                                                                          - Ireland - First Division and above
                                                                                                                                          - Italy - Serie C and above
                                                                                                                                          - Northern Ireland - Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League and above
                                                                                                                                          - Scotland - League 2 and above
                                                                                                                                          - Spain - Second Division B and above
                                                                                                                                          - USA - MLS only
                                                                                                                                          - Wales - JD Cymru North/South and above
                                                                                                                                          - Kuwait - All options ticked
                                                                                                                                          - Zimbabwe - All options ticked
                                                                                                                                          - Barbados - All options ticked

This leaves me with a database of approximately 76,000 players. The only option ticked in advanced options is "Do not Add Key Staff" and the game start date is Early 2020/21 Pre-Season (27/07/2020). With regards to Coaching Badges I always start with none and my past experience as Sunday League Footballer. 

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Francisco Ravizzoli - Age 23, CA ★★★½, PA ★★★★½

Luke Glover - Age 23, CA ★½, PA ★★½

Argentinian goalkeeper Ravizzoli (friends with player/assistant manager Sergio Torres) is in his second spell at the club and seems to be a decent option for this level. He's considered a good shot stopper although doesn't speak English currently. Glover on the other hand is probably never going to be good enough for this level however I'm not a massive fan of constantly changing the goalkeeper and so this works for me. Both are on one year deals. 

Mitchell Dickenson - Age 23, CA ★★★½, PA ★★★★½

Tyler Pearson - Age 20, CA YTH Rating, PA ★★

Steven James - Age 21, CA ★★, PA ★★★★★

Ian Gayle - Age 27, CA ★★½, PA ★★★

Lacking both quality and quantity the defensive options at the club currently are lacking inspiration. Mitchell Dickenson is the standout option and Swedish youngster Steven James looks a good option to partner him with in order to try and unlock the obvious potential. Both Pearson and Gayle are on non contract terms and whilst Gayle offers a back up option, Pearson offers very little. New recruits are going to be necessary no matter what formation I decide to play.

Emmanuel Folarin - Age 28, CA ★★, PA ★★

James Ferry - Age 23, CA ★★★, PA ★★★★½

James Hammond - Age 23, CA ★½, PA ★★

James Vaughan - Age 25, CA ★★½, PA ★★½

Sergio Torres - Age 36, CA ★★★★, PA ★★★★

Dean Cox - Age 32, CA ★★★★, PA ★★★★

Joel Rollinson - Age 21, CA ★★★★, PA ★★★★★

Chris Whelpdale - Age 33, CA ★★★★★, PA ★★★★★

The opposite of the defence is true for the midfield with some talented and well known former Football League players in the squad in Sergio Torres, Dean Cox and Chris Whelpdale. However they're all on the wrong side of 30 and so whilst they will be good players, they will need replacing pretty soon. Former Reading youngster Joel Rollinson looks a talent and has the potential to play in the EFL.

Leone Gravata - Age 19, CA YTH Rating, PA ★★

Charlie Walker - Age 30, CA ★★★, PA ★★★

Greg Luer - Age 25, CA ★★★½, PA ★★★★★

Charlie Lambert - Age 25, CA ★½, PA ★★

A similar story to the defence with regards to a lack of quantity and quality. Former Hull City striker Greg Luer seems to be the best prospect whilst experienced non league striker Charlie Walker provides another option. Gravata and Lambert don't seem anything special and are likely to be back ups until reinforcements can be brought in. 

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With a squad lacking in quantity my first task will be to ensure we have enough numbers to deal with the amount of games we will face in a shortened season. Three of the best players at the club are the wrong side of 30 and all players are only on one year deals so a couple of seasons of overhauls could well be possible. There's a non existent transfer budget and only £600 p/w spare in the wage budget so not much to play with there. However this also gives me increased flexibility as we're not locked into any expensive, long term contracts. With very little expectations from the board can I achieve success and bring Football League football to Eastbourne for the first time? 

Edited by Gunner 101
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Following on from the initial review of the playing staff I've decided to go with a positive 4-2-4 formation as my main tactic and a 4-4-2 for both my #2 and #3 tactics. Ideally we will spend most of the time playing the 4-2-4 and switch to the different 4-4-2 tactics depending on the opposition or/and scoreline during the match. Usually I would go with a 4-3-3 so using something different will provide me with a different challenge and pre-season will be key to ensure the formations are doing what I expect of them. 


The versatility of Chris Whelpdale means I have a solid option at right back despite a lack of out and out defenders in the squad to begin with. This also means Joel Rollinson will get plenty of game time further ahead and if those two can work well together we have one of the best right sides in the league IMO. Central midfielder James Vaughan is currently the best option in the squad to play left back and that will be the first position I aim to address. The left footed Dickenson and right footed James have the potential to form a solid partnership in the centre of defence. Sergio Torres suits the deep lying playmaker role perfectly whilst James Ferry should see plenty of game time next to him in order to realise his potential. Overall the 4-2-4 formation seems to suit the players I have at my disposal from the beginning and it also falls back nicely into a 4-4-2 should it be required. Of course this could all change when we take it off paper and put it into practice. 

Due to the lack of players I've instructed the board to search for a senior affiliate club. I was hoping for possibly one of Brighton or Southampton however failing that I would have been happy with Bournemouth or Portsmouth but the choices presented to me contained none of those sides. Instead I was presented with a list of League One sides; Plymouth Argyle, Lincoln City, Fleetwood Town and Rochdale. In the end it came down to a choice between Lincoln and Fleetwood however I opted for Fleetwood due to previously having lived close to Highbury Stadium and them having a Under 23's side. 

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Taking over at a new club it's always a good idea to check on the staff and also ensure you have the numbers you require to fulfil roles at the club. I generally tend to give staff members a chance and so do very little in the first season other than bring in staff members where there are gaps. Former Premier League player Matt Robinson agreed to become our Under 18's Assistant Manager. The former Southampton, Portsmouth and Reading defender was previously a coach at fellow VNS side Chippenham Town. I'm hoping his professional personality will rub off on the youngsters that come through the academy. Also joining the club was former Ebbsfleet physio Jamie Crosswell. Crosswell would fill the vacant Head Physio position. The final staff signing I made was that of former Market Drayton goalkeeper Sheridan Martinez. Martinez decided to hang up his boots and focus on being solely a scout. 

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Cameron Murray - 25 Years Old - Free from Weymouth


The first signing I made in charge of The Sports was that of attacking midfielder Cameron Murray. Murray makes the move East along the South coast having joined from Vanarama National side Weymouth. Murray enjoyed promotion from the VNS last season with his former club and will provide back up on the right wing to Joel Rollinson. Murray has signed on non-contract terms but as he was happy to play back up I was happy to sanction the deal. I very much like to rely on a core XI so having someone who's happy to play back up and not kick up a fuss about playing time is ideal.

Kris Owens - 21 Years Old - Free from Connah's Quay Nomads


Kris Owens comes in from current reigning JD Cymru Premier Champions Connah's Quay on a free transfer. The 6'4" full back was previously a youngster on Liverpool's books and fills the hole that I had at left back. He displays a determined attitude which will be key in getting up and down that left flank. His mental stats stand out and he has really good determination and composure stats for this level of football. Owens as signed a one year deal worth £200 p/w. 

Phoenix Patterson - 19 Years Old - Free Transfer


Young winger Phoenix Patterson joins the club having been released from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. Patterson had been on trial at the club and scored in the victory over Cogenhoe. Whilst he has good pace and acceleration his other stats require some improving but hopefully with plenty of game time he will realise his potential. He comes in to challenge Dean Cox for a place in the side. He's signed a one year deal worth £275 p/w. 

Columbus Ibeh - 19 Years Old - Free Transfer


Joining on the same day as Patterson was young striker Columbus Ibeh. Ibeh joins on a free transfer having been released from Premier League side and close neighbours Brighton & Hove Albion. The youngster has joined on non-contract terms which is ideal for me currently due to the lack of wage budget at the club. Ibeh will provide cover for both the striking positions given the lack of quality currently outside of our strongest XI. Ibeh is the highest rated finisher at the club and like Patterson, scored when he was on trial during the match against Cogenhoe.

Jashaun Chamberlin-Gayle - 18 Years Old - Free Transfer


Possibly the final permanent piece of business for the summer was the signing of former Crystal Palace youngster Jashaun Chamberlin-Gayle. I was in the market for a left side central defender and a left back (in addition to the signing of Kris Owens) and Jashaun's versatility made his signing a no brainer with the ability to play all the way across the backline. Like Ibeh he joins on a non-contract basis due to the wage budget situation at the club.

Ged Garner - 21 Years Old - 4 Month Loan from Fleetwood Town


Having made all the possible permanent signings I could I turned to my senior affiliate in Fleetwood Town to supplement the squad with some additional quality. Young striker Ged Garner joined on a 4 month loan deal (could only be 4 months due to Garner's contract expiring at Fleetwood) with zero cost. Garner offers some good physicals and height to the attack. It also means I have options up front now with Walker, Luer and Ibeh also vying for places. Garner has made just the single league appearance for his parent club. 

Barry Baggley - 18 Years Old - Season Long Loan from Fleetwood Town


Barry Baggley also joined from Fleetwood however this deal was for the entire season. The youngster from Northern Ireland has played 3 times for his parent club and has decent potential. His high work rate makes him a good fit for the centre of midfield. Sergio Torres has already started to decline so bringing Baggley in was a no brainer. 

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Tyler Pearson - 20 Years Old - Released

Youngster Pearson was released as I didn't believe he had any sort of future at the club. At the point of this update he is still without a club. 

James Hammond - 23 Years Old - Released

Similar to Pearson, Hammond was released as I believe he wouldn't have had any sort of impact at the club. The position he played meant he had numerous bodies higher up the pecking order and I felt by releasing and freeing up something in the wage budget would be the best option. At the point of this update he is also still without a club. 

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FRIENDLY #1 - Aylesbury United (Southern League Division One Central) (A)
Saturday 8th August 2020 - Attendance 55 (17 from The Sports)


The first pre-season friendly saw us take the trip to Aylesbury to face a side 3 steps down in the National League System. We decided to start with our strongest XI available; except for Emmanuel Folarin replacing the injured James Ferry, Cameron Murray starting over Joel Rollinson and a trialist in at the left back position. A Dean Cox freekick after 10 minutes saw Steven James have a header tipped wide. Aylesbury created a chance of their own after 15 minutes however Francisco Ravizzoli was equal to it. We had our first goal of pre-season after 33 minutes as Sergio Torres found Chris Whelpdale down the right who in turn fed Greg Luer before Luer crossed for his strike partner Charlie Walker to tap home. Greg Luer thought he had a goal of his own just a couple of moments later however his header was ruled out for offside. Another ball from Luer after 40 minutes found Walker in space but he could only shoot straight at the keeper this time. Shortly after the break Luer did set up his strike partner again, perhaps inadvertently as his misplaced pass bounced perfectly into the path of Walker who smashed home from 25 yards on the half volley. It was an hat-trick of assists for Luer on the hour mark as he once again fed Walker who sealed his hat-trick with a placed finish low to the keepers right.  It should have been 4 for Walker 5 minutes later but this time he placed the ball wide as he went through one-on-one with the keeper. Aylesbury almost pulled one back with 75 minutes on the clock as a lose throw from Whelpdale was intercepted and following a cross the ball was headed just over. Luer finally got on the scoresheet after 77 minutes, volleying home a delivery from substitute James Vaughan. 

Aylesbury United 0 - 4 Eastbourne Borough - Charlie Walker (34, 48, 61), Greg Luer (78)

FRIENDLY #2 - Newport (English Wessex League Division One) (A)
Saturday 15th August 2020 - Attendance 60 (18 from The Sports)


Our second pre-season friendly saw us take the ferry to take on Newport of the Isle of Wight. One Ferry that wouldn't be involved for a second game in the row was James, who had yet to recover from a back strain. 7 changes in total were made from the last game with the chance for others to stake a claim for a place and for the squad to build fitness. Newport had a glorious chance to take the lead on 28 minutes after Ian Gayle was penalised for handball however the resulting penalty was put wide. Joel Rollinson was shown a yellow card for a trip however following the resulting freekick we had a break with Rollinson bursting into the area, eventually he squared for James Vaughan but it was struck straight at the keeper. Almost the perfect start to the second half! We certainly looked more threatening and we broke the deadlock after 50 minutes as a deep Daniel Blackmore cross found Dean Cox unmarked to head home from 6 yards. We thought we had a second as Cameron Murray latched on to Vaughan's through ball and slotted home but Murray was clearly offside and the goal was ruled out, still 1-0. We did have a second after 75 minutes as Sergio Torres curled in a freekick from all of 30 yards. 

Newport 0 - 2 Eastbourne Borough - Dean Cox (51), Sergio Torres (76)

FRIENDLY #3 - Dereham Town (Isthmian Division One North) (A)
Wednesday 19th August 2020 - Attendance 72 (9 from The Sports)


James Ferry returned from injury to take his place in the starting XI for the first time. 10 changes were made from last time out with 3 trialists in the starting XI. It was one of those trialists that crossed for Greg Luer to tap home with just 13 seconds played. Perfect start. It should have been two a minute later as Francisco Ravizzoli launched a long ball over the top for Leone Gravata to connect with but his shot was too close to the keeper who kept it out. It was 2-0 on 6 minutes as Sergio Torres found central defender Steven James at the back post from a freekick and James poked home. Gravata had another clear chance on 8 minutes but he lacked any real conviction and the keeper safely collected the ball. Chris Whelpdale made it 3-0 after 28 minutes from the penalty spot after Gravata was clattered by a Dereham defender. Gravata finally scored after 76 minutes. Some lovely play down the right saw substitute Joel Rollinson free and he rolled it across for Gravata to tap home. It was 5-0 not long after as Rollinson placed home a freekick from the edge of the area. Total domination. Gravata made it 6 with a scorching volley only for it to be disallowed for offside. 

Dereham Town 0 - 5 Eastbourne Borough - Greg Luer (1), Steven James (6), Chris Whelpdale (29), Leone Gravata (77), Joel Rollinson (82)

FRIENDLY #4 - Cogenhoe (United Counties Premier) (A)
Saturday 22nd August 2020 - Attendance 37 (13 from The Sports)


For our third game in a week more rotation was necessary as we try to get minutes in legs in this longer than usual pre-season schedule. We almost started quickly again as a Charlie Walker header hit the post before being cleared to safety. We had the lead though after 12 minutes. Left back Kris Owens overlapped down the left before his cross was met by the head of a trialist. We made it 2-0 10 minutes later only for it to be disallowed for a questionable offside call. It was 2-0 on the half hour mark as Joel Rollinson headed a Sergio Torres freekick back across goal for a second trialist to get on the scoresheet. It was 3-0 less than 5 minutes later as Torres found the run of Walker and he calmly slotted home. Cogenhoe pulled a goal back as inexplicably Ian Gayle stepped up which left their striker with plenty of room to chip over Luke Glover in goal. Another Owens cross was then converted by Walker to make it 4-1 after 75 minutes. A second assist for Owens and second goal of the game for Walker. With 10 seconds left on the clock Walker was played through by Whelpdale and he finished accurately to record his second hat-trick of pre-season. 

Cogenhoe 1 - 5 Eastbourne Borough - Trialist (13), Trialist (30), Charlie Walker (34, 76, 90+3)

FRIENDLY #5 - Cinderford Town (Southern League Division One South) (A)
Saturday 5th September 2020 - Attendance 52 (13 from The Sports)


Having had a two week period without a friendly we was back in action. Within that time 4 new signings had come through the door and the squad was starting to take shape. Despite dominating proceedings it took until the hour mark for us to breakthrough and it was Cameron Murray who got it, heading in from a Sergio Torres freekick. It was 2-0 after 72 minutes with the other wide player and new signing Phoenix Patterson getting free at the back post to head in Daniel Blackmore's cross. It was 3-0 with 10 minutes left after some neat play between Greg Luer and Joel Rollinson and the latter's cross to an unmarked Charlie Walker who finished from close range. Not content with being provider Rollinson added a goal of his own in stoppage time, skinning his man before powerfully finishing passed the goalkeeper to make it 4-0. 

Cinderford Town 0 - 4 Eastbourne Borough - Cameron Murray (61), Phoenix Patterson (73), Charlie Walker (81), Joel Rollinson (90 + 2)

FRIENDLY #6 - Eastbourne United (Southern Combination Premier) (H)
Wednesday 9th September 2020 - Attendance 282 (99 Away Fans)


Our first (of two) home friendly matches came against fellow local side Eastbourne United. A quiet first half passed without event until stoppage time when we won the ball back high up the pitch through James Vaughan who found Dean Cox who in turn laid it off to Columbus Ibeh who found the back of the net from just outside the area. We started with a bang in the second half and Cox once again found Ibeh who finished smartly. It was 3-0 just a minute later as Chris Whelpdale's deep cross found Cox who finished superbly on the volley. Eastbourne United almost had an immediate reply but could only hit the post when through one-on-one. Two time goal scorer picked up a knock after 52 minutes and was replaced by Greg Luer. Fleetwood loanee Ged Garner added a 4th having been played in behind by Luer. Thankfully Ibeh had no lasting damage from the injury that forced him to come off early in the second half. 

Eastbourne Borough 4 - 0 Eastbourne United - Columbus Ibeh (45 + 1, 47), Dean Cox (49), Ged Garner (85)

FRIENDLY #7 - FC Romania (Isthmian League South Central Division) (A)
Saturday 19th September 2020 - Attendance 53 (17 from The Sports)


The penultimate friendly saw us back on the road to take on FC Romania. With us now much closer to the big kick off the squad put out was pretty much our strongest XI available. We found the back of net early on as the two Fleetwood loanees combined however Ged Garner moved too soon and it was rightly ruled out for offside. We took the lead after 19 minutes as Garner timed his run to perfection before squaring the ball to Joel Rollinson who took two attempts to put it away but score he did. A central defender down as Jashaun Chamberlin-Gayle received treatment for a knock and FC Romania took advantage, scoring from a freekick however it was thankfully ruled out for a foul. Chamberlin-Gayle was then replaced by Mitchell Dickenson. That scare seemed to wake us up though as a Chris Whelpdale cross was headed home by Garner. We was forced into another change at half time with Phoenix Patterson picking up a knock and being replaced by Dean Cox. It didn't seem to affect us though as Rollinson added his second of the match to make it 3-0 after 49 minutes. FC Romania did pull a goal back. Having been a threat from set pieces all game they managed to convert from a corner with 16 minutes left to play. Any nerves were settled though with 7 minutes to play as the Fleetwood men linked up again and this time it counted as Barry Baggley found Garner with a peach of a ball and Garner finished for his second of the game. Both players who came off injured had minor injuries with Chamberlin-Gayle set to miss 6-9 days and Patterson just 1-2 days. 

FC Romania 1 - 4 Eastbourne Borough - Joel Rollinson (19, 49), Ged Garner (38, 83)

FRIENDLY #8 - Canvey Island (Isthmian Division One North) (H)
Saturday 26th September 2020 - Attendance 185 (1 Away Fan)


The final friendly of this longer than usual pre-season was in front of our home crowd with the visit of Canvey Island. The team now had a familiar look about it with the strongest possible XI out to start the game. This has changed from the beginning of pre-season has both Dean Cox and Sergio Torres now find themselves playing back up to much younger players. An early chance for Canvey Island saw Francisco Ravizzoli produce a fine save to turn the ball behind for a corner. After the first half passed without incident Canvey Island almost took the lead as a long range strike bounced through and hit the outside of the post. We finally woke up and a nice team move after 59 minutes saw us move in front with Ged Garner placing the ball into the corner from just inside the box. Garner got his and our second goal after 73 minutes, latching onto a pass from Barry Baggley to finish in the box once more. Garner sealed his hat-trick with 10 minutes to go with a goal which saw him pick up the ball from a Canvey corner and run the length of the pitch, skinning one defender before finishing passed the keeper. 

Eastbourne Borough 3 - 0 Canvey Island - Ged Garner (59, 73, 80)

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We've finally reached the end of what is a really long pre-season and we have to be pleased with our efforts. With 31 goals scored and only conceded across the 8 games we played. Although the quality of opposition wasn't great we played well in parts and hopefully the squad have learnt about the way I want them to play. Seven new signings have arrived through the doors to boost player numbers and I'm hopeful of exceeding the clubs predicted finish of 18th. With only £65 p/w spare in the wage budget we really can't afford to do much more and I'm not a massive fan of huge overhauls anyway (7 players in is a lot for me!) We've sold 250 season tickets for the upcoming campaign which starts with an away trip to Oxford City. Prior to that though our first competitive fixture will be in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round at home to Wingate & Finchley from the Isthmian League Premier Division. Our Under 18's side have already played one game in the FA Youth Cup, winning 4-3 against Bristol Manor Farm. 

Edited by Gunner 101
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37 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Just seen this mate, best of luck with it! Some decent signings, it seems.

Cheers mate! Not so sure myself, don’t feel at ease with playing the way I’m set up to do but hopefully that will come with time. Good to get away from what you know sometimes though and try something different. 

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Having had a good pre-season where we won 8 out of 8 matches we was ready for the new season. We go into the new campaign with a fully fit squad, having not suffered any serious injuries during pre-season. With very little expected can we put together an early run of form to erase any fears of relegation and be looking up the table rather than over our shoulders?  

No further transfers were made in or out during the month of October however Mitchell Dickenson did commit his future to the club, signing a new deal until June 2022. The central defender is in his first season at the club but has started well with 8 appearances and a goal in all competitions so far this season. He's also starting to develop a nice partnership with fellow centre back Steven James and I'm hoping they can both continue to develop alongside one another.

Ged Garner has also started the season well and this was confirmed by him coming third in the Vanarama National League South October Player of the Month award. The young striker on loan from Fleetwood Town as 4 goals in 5 league appearances with an average rating of 7.36. A complete contrast to other Fleetwood loanee Barry Baggley who's really struggled to make any sort of impact and has found himself out of the starting XI. 

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FA Cup Second Qualifying Round - Wingate & Finchley (Isthmian Premier) (H)
Saturday 3rd October 2020 - Attendance 545 (40 Away Fans)


The first competitive match of my tenure in charge of Eastbourne Borough came in the FA Cup. With expectations to get to at least the 4th qualifying round and being at home to a lower ranked side, the pressure was on to get the required result. Despite having a league match in 3 days time I went with the strongest XI given we had no injury worries. Looking at the Wingate & Finchley side former Barnet man Mauro Vilhete looks like he will be the biggest threat having dropped down the divisions having played in the Vanarama National last season. A spell of dominant possession ended with Ged Garner heading just wide. Despite dominating and restricting Wingate & Finchley to zero shots, we went in at the break level. We immediately seemed to have more about us after the break and after Phoenix Patterson went close, Greg Luer made the breakthrough, converting Kris Owen's cross after 47 minutes. A missed header by Mitchell Dickenson saw Wingate & Finchley equalise with 15 minutes left through Lawrence Collis. With the score tied at the end of the 90 minutes we was into extra time. With no further goals in extra time it was the dreaded penalty shootout and Francisco Ravizzoli proved to be the hero, saving two as we progressed to the next round with a 4-3 win on penalties. 

Eastbourne Borough 1 - 1 (4-3 on pens) Wingate & Finchley - Greg Luer (47)

Vanarama National League South Matchday #1 - Oxford City (A)
Tuesday 6th October 2020 - Attendance 377 (51 from The Sports)


The first game of the season was here and we faced an Oxford City side predicted to finish mid-table. 3 changes were made from the last game with the extended match causing some players to still be tired from the FA Cup tie. After an even first half that seemed destined to end in a stalemate, we took the lead in stoppage time as Cameron Murray got on the end of a Sergio Torres freekick. Murray with a goal on his debut. Oxford City equalised after 52 minutes through Harvey Bradbury. After clearing an initial freekick we failed to deal with the ball back into the box and Bradbury was there with a free header. The score wasn't level for long as after Ged's Garner header was saved it was Garner who reacted quickest to finish the follow up into an empty net. 2-1 after 59 minutes. Garner almost added a second from a narrow angle but his shot hit the instead of the post and bounced clear. 2-1 with 10 minutes left. The lead didn't last though as we was undone by another set piece, this time Luis Fernandez heading in from a corner. 2-2 after 82 minutes. The last 8 minutes passed without incident and despite taking the lead twice we had to be content with a draw. 

Oxford City 2 - 2 Eastbourne Borough - Cameron Murray (45+2), Ged Garner (59)

Vanarama National League South Matchday #2 - Havant & Waterlooville - (H)
Saturday 10th October 2020 - Attendance 904 (277 Away Fans)


Our first home game of the campaign was against a playoff chasing side in Havant & Waterlooville. With not much rest between fixtures it was again a case of some rotation and 3 changes were made again. We took the lead after 15 minutes as a delightful ball from Chris Whelpdale found Ged Garner to head home. Our lead was wiped out after 28 minutes as striker Tommy Wright was put in behind and he finished to make it 1-1. After a quiet second half the game finished 1-1, making it two draws out of two for the start of the campaign. 

Eastbourne Borough 1 - 1 Havant & Waterlooville - Ged Garner (15)

FA Cup Third Qualifying Round - Worthing (Isthmian Premier) (A)
Tuesday 13th October 2020 - Attendance 1,705 (87 from The Sports)


We was back in FA Cup action with an hour's trip across the South coast to Worthing. By beating Worthing we would meet the objective set by the board at the start of the season. With the Tuesday/Saturday mix of fixtures changes were again made, the older legs of Sergio Torres and Dean Cox dropping out with James Ferry and Phoenix Patterson coming in. Worthing took an early lead as a long kick from the goalkeeper went all the way through and Ed Coulter fired home. 4 minutes in and we was 1-0 down. We levelled matters after 20 minutes, Chris Whelpdale with the cross and Patterson met it to score his first goal for the club. Ged Garner put us in front 10 minutes later, latching on to a long ball and slotting passed the goalkeeper for his 3rd goal in 3 games. We extended the lead shortly after the break with central defender Mitchell Dickenson scoring an outrageous volley from the edge of the box after a corner was headed clear. That would be the end of the scoring as we managed to hold on and advance to the next round. 

Worthing 1 - 3 Eastbourne Borough - Phoenix Patterson (20), Ged Garner (30), Mitchell Dickenson (48)

Vanarama National League South Matchday #3 - Bath City - (A)
Saturday 17th October 2020 - Attendance 1,123 (46 from The Sports)


Back in VNS action with an away trip to mid-table Bath City, who like us had yet to win a game so far this league season. We should have took the lead after 12 minutes as Joel Rollinson found Ged Garner but he scooped it over the bar from inside the six yard box. The perfect chance for the man in form. With only that early Garner chance the game went in level at the break. A similar quiet second half saw neither side threaten and we had to make do with yet another draw. 3 games, 3 draws to start the season. 

Bath City 0 - 0 Eastbourne Borough

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round - Maidenhead United (Vanarama National League) (A)
Saturday 24th October 2020 - Attendance 1,093 (259 from The Sports)


Having reached our minimum expectations by getting to this stage we faced a trip to a side in the division above with an appearance in the First Round proper up for grabs. Maidenhead have not had the best starts, drawing twice and losing the rest of their opening 5 games in the league. Was there a chance we could cause an upset? Ged Garner (who else?) gave us the lead after 38 minutes. We recycled possession really well and James Ferry's ball from deep was picked up and dispatched calmly by the on loan Fleetwood man. We had the perfect chance to double our lead through Phoenix Patterson but his header went over from close range and then Maidenhead equalised straight after, a long goal kick found striker Nathan Blissett and his strike went in off the post. Maidenhead were now starting to take control and former Premier League striker Marc-Antoine Fortune went close. After a few moments where it looked like Maidenhead would take the lead instead it was us, Joel Rollinson stabbing home at the far post with 10 minutes to play. Can we finally hold a lead and get through to the FA Cup First Round? Garner had a great chance to finish it off in stoppage time but was denied by the keeper. However it didn't matter as we held on and progressed into the FA Cup proper. 

Maidenhead United 1 - 2 Eastbourne Borough - Ged Garner (38), Joel Rollinson (79)

Vanarama National League South Matchday #4 - Hampton & Richmond - (A)
Tuesday 27th October 2020 - Attendance 363 (42 from The Sports)


Our 4th away game in a row was to an Hampton & Richmond side who had lost their first 3 games of the season. Could we finally break our drawing sequence and get our first 3 points of the season? The team was unchanged for the first time this season. We took the lead after 31 minutes with full back Kris Owens going on a mazy run down the left before drilling in a cross for Joel Rollinson to head in with a little help from the underside of the bar. Despite not finding a second goal in the second half and some dodgy/tense moments at the end of the half we did manage to come away with our first 3 points of the season.

Hampton & Richmond 0 - 1 Eastbourne Borough - Joel Rollinson (31)

Vanarama National League South Matchday #5 - Slough Town - (H)
Saturday 31st October 2020 - Attendance 665 (85 Away Fans)


Our final game of October came on Halloween against a Slough side that had won 3 of their 4 games so far. Would we be in for a trick or a treat? The side was again unchanged having won the last two games. After a first half where we could have easily been losing we went in at the break level. After some much needed tactical tweaks and a slight telling off we came out fighting and Ged Garner headed his 5th goal of the season after 51 minutes to give us the lead. We had a second just 6 minutes later as Joel Rollinson got in behind the Slough defence before squaring for Garner to tap home his and our second. It really was a tale of two halves as our two goals were enough to secure all 3 points. 

Eastbourne Borough 2 - 0 Slough Town - Ged Garner (51, 57)

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It's been a good start to the season for us seeing as we was expected to be battling relegation however those couple of wins on the bounce at the end of the month propelled us up to 6th in the league with us still unbeaten. It's also been good to progress in the FA Cup, especially given how we almost fell at the first hurdle with the penalty shootout victory over Wingate & Finchley. Ged Garner has been a great signing and his goals are going to be key in how we do. Unfortunately we only have him until January (due to his contract expiring at Fleetwood) so we will need to monitor that situation and be ready to react to either renew the loan, look to sign him permanently or look for a replacement. Both full backs (Kris Owens and Chris Whelpdale) have been great in spreading the play and both have chipped in with a team high 3 assists so far. 

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