DORCHESTER TOWN 2 EASTBOURNE BOROUGH 1
TWO late strikes saw Dorchester Town rescue victory from the jaws of defeat on a dramatic first day of the new season.
The Magpies looked destined to start the new Blue Square Bet South campaign on a downer after James Walker had given Eastbourne a deserved lead at the Avenue Stad-ium.
Time began to tick away but with only three minutes left on the clock, substitute Elliot Ward marked his debut with a late leveller and then, in injury-time, on-loan striker Jamie Reid completed a miraculous comeback by netting the winning goal.
Delighted boss Phil Simkin said: “I had a feeling Wardy was going to score as I have seen him do it before. It was a great free-kick and we’ve not had anyone who can do that for a while.
“At that stage I would have taken a point but to get three points against a side like that, I’m delighted.
“I was disappointed with the goal we conceded though. We looked for offside, which we never do and is just plain lazy, and the lad was allowed to bring the ball down in the box, which is inexcusable.
“It gave us a mountain to climb but the substitutions made a difference and the front two worked their socks off.”
Donning a new strip for the opening day, the Magpies handed competitive debuts to gloveman Jason Matthews, Exeter City loanees Jacob Wannell and Reid, centre-back Charlie Clough and striker Ben Watson – the latter coming up against his former employers.
Jamie Gleeson failed to overcome a recent virus so skipper Mark Jermyn advanced into midfield.
A new-look Borough, who have drafted in a host of big-name signings this summer, included ex-Terra Nick Jordan in their match-day squad.
It was the hosts who made the more authoritative start to proceedings and unsurprisingly the first real chance fell their way.
Unfortunately, an unmarked Reid was unable to connect with Nathan Walker’s knock-down following a lofted free-kick from Wannell in the 12th minute.
The young forward created another opportunity for himself four minutes later but after cutting inside two defenders, his shot from the edge of the box lacked the necessary pace to trouble visiting keeper Danny Potter.
Just as the Magpies appeared to hold the upper hand, Borough burst into life midway through the half and went closest to breaking the deadlock.
Pouncing on a miscued clearance from Clough, the visitors broke down the right and a pin-point cross was met at the back stick by Josh Scowen, but his goalbound header was somehow clawed away by the alert Matthews.
Matthews was again forced into action to keep out another effort from Scowen on the half-hour and then a fairly straightforward set-piece from Simon Johnson five minutes before the break.
The subsequent kick out of the keeper’s hands found Reid at the other end and he unleashed a first-time shot, which again proved routine for Potter.
Eastbourne ended the first half the stronger of the two sides and within two minutes of the restart Simon Johnson flashed a fierce drive narrowly wide of the left upright.
Dorchester did show signs of improvement as the half progressed and the hard-working Reid, putting in a decent shift on his maiden appearance at the Avenue, wasn’t far from finding the top corner after letting fly from 30 yards.
But Borough delivered another counter-punch and this time took the lead on 64 minutes.
Substitute Charles Ademeno kept the ball in play near the right-hand corner and then picked out James Walker in the middle, who was afforded time and space to bring the ball down on his chest and blast home via the underside of the crossbar.
Ademeno dragged wide 17 minutes from time after being released by fellow replacement Chris Shephard and that reprieve was met by further changes from the home dugout as Sam Malsom and then Ward entered the fray.
And the duo made the desired impact with just three minutes remaining.
A piece of trickery from Malsom drew a foul from Borough captain Ollie Rowe 20 yards out and Ward found the bottom-left corner with pace and precision.
Dorchester were now in the ascendancy as stoppage-time loomed and there was to be one final twist as Watson delivered for striker partner Reid, who beat Potter from close range to cue wild celebrations.
Magpies: Matthews, Bell (Ward 75), Wannell (Morgan 46), Clough, N Walker, Jermyn, Crittenden (Malsom 73), Nicholls, Watson, Reid, Martin. Subs not used: Symes, Floyd.
Borough: Potter, Hamilton, Rowe, Uddin, Cole, Gorman, Johnson (Shephard 65), Scowen, J Walker, Knight (Ademeno 60), Hart. Subs not used: Baker, Turpin, Jordan.