If United have a bogey ground then Eastbourne’s Priory Lane must be up there in the reckoning after a promising opening slipped away to defeat and made a long journey home even longer.
United started very brightly with Rhys Murrell-Williamson showing his pace down the right edge of the box inside the third minute to beat his defender and drill a cross that returning midfielder Jack Mills met on the penalty spot with a first time effort unfortunately straight at goalkeeper Lewis Carey.
It was a similar combination on 14 minutes when Murrell-Williamson broke down the right before turning back on his left foot. Mills met his throughball on the byline only to watch his own cross race across the face of goal.
On the other wing Tom Collins appeared to have the beating of the home right-back but his tricks and pace failed twice to trouble goalkeeper Carey, despite his area being notably busier than Grant Smith’s.
On the half-hour mark Mills was again influential and this time it broke the deadlock. A great move inside the right edge of the Eastbourne box saw a daintily lifted cross from the byline, perfect for Pat Cox to head home at the far post to give United the lead.
Unfortunately, the goal seemed to spur Eastbourne to life. On 34 minutes a low cross from the right for the visitors swept dangerously across the face of goal with the United defenders attempting to scramble clear and an Eastbourne striker getting tangled up in the goal net.
The relief was short-lived however as a corner from the right on 35 minutes saw Eastbourne’s Darren Lok toe home from close range for the equaliser.
Ahead of the break, Eastbourne’s Sam Beale then sent a free-kick up and over the wall but thankfully wide of the goalpost.
The second half saw the hosts again in the ascendency. Nine minutes in Smith made a strong block to repel a low shot and then was able to watch the follow-up fly well over.
On the hour mark United had their best chance of the half when De’Reece Vanderhyde sent in a cross from the right which Mills met 6 yards out with a back-heel but his effort lacked power and was quickly cleared.
Eastbourne seemed keen to shoot from long-range at every opportunity and Matt Parsons followed soon after with a 35 yard effort that was just off target. On 71 minutes it was Matt Aldred with a 30 yard effort that Smith turned away for a corner. However from the resulting corner, amid a mass of bodies, Marvin Hamilton smacked the ball into the roof of the net to put the hosts 2-1 up.
In the remaining minutes, Eastbourne looked most likely to score again with Parsons hitting the bar and Simon Johnson hitting the post but the scoreline remained 2-1 and so concluded another disappointing trip to Priory Lane.
Report by Tim Fuell.
United Man of the Match: Jack Mills.