The Magpies travelled to Eastbourne for the second time in just over a month (this time to face United) seriously depleted for a number of reasons, in fact they were missing Harry Bachelor, Josh Courtney, Jack Foyster, Eddie French, Jay Lovett, Byron Napper and Yassin Raman from the regular matchday squad and they were now up against a side sitting fifth in the table.
It wasn't long before there were concerns that the level of absenteeism was going to prove fatal when Steve Dallaway got across Clyde Jacques at the near post in the twelfth minute to meet a cross and poked the ball past Harrison Hilfiker, who was returning in the visitor's goal, for the opener. However, the Magpies have shown a strengthened character in recent weeks and were to demonstrate it again this afternoon. Just five minutes later Michael Wood slipped a through ball that Matt Daniel (above left) latched onto and despite vociferous calls for offside the striker kept his cool amongst them and calmly finished left-footed across Philip Hawkins and into the bottom right corner to even up the match.
With the momentum now with the Magpies, they took advantage in the twenty-fifth minute when they showed their passing prowess to great effect with a move that found Rhyan Ramsey advanced on the right hand side and he drilled an excellent ball across the face of the goal for Jon Dollery to finish at the far post for his first goal for the club since his debut at nearby Eastbourne Town. The rest of the half was very much a battle of a passing game against a United side that were robust in their approach and relied on their proficiency from set-pieces and long throw-ins. Neither side were able to add to their tallies in the first half, however and the whistle was blown still at 1-2.
The hosts launched a fight back of their own in the second half to turn the game around again. One of many dangerous long throw-ins caused the defence difficulties and when the ball wasn't cleared Liam Baitup was the quickest to react and stab the ball home inside the 6 yard box after fifty-one minutes to make the game all square again. Eleven minutes later though they were back in front when the ever-dangerous Dallaway cut in from the left hand side and unleashed a whipped effort across Hilfiker that nestled in the top corner.
With just under half an hour to go though, it never looked like that would be the end of the scoring and the visitors did well to keep their energy levels up given the aforementioned absences along with the knocks that were being carried by a number of the side following some dubious challenges in recent weeks from frustrated opponents. And their perseverance would indeed reap its reward eleven minutes from time. Neat work again saw the ball fed out to Dollery on the left and the Candian U20 international played a ball into the area that the home defence were unable to clear and when the ball reached substitute Charlie Pitcher eight yards from goal there was to be only one outcome and sure enough it was 3-3.
With both teams having given so much on a chilly afternoon by the East Sussex coast, there was little threat to either goal in the time that remained and both teams settled for a point that they both took some comfort from. With it the hosts arrested a poor run of recent results whilst the visitors had taken something from a side that will pick up plenty at home between now and the end of the season despite being well below full strength.
Team: Cave, Colbran, Daniel (Pitcher 70), Dollery, Enticknap , Hilfiker, Jacques, Jee, Ramsey, Scally & Wood Subs not used: M Beard & House