People may be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing happening on a wet, cold Tuesday night in Eastbourne, but that certainly wasn’t the case at the Saffrons Stadium.
known mostly for their unique and quirky ultras group ‘Pier Pressure’, Eastbourne Town FC isn’t a club that many people from outside of Sussex would have heard of, but last night’s emphatic 6-0 victory over Midhurst and Easebourne in the Sussex Senior Cup showcased the abundance of talent the club possess.
With Town cruising 3-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Dan Rogers, Aaron Hopkinson and Aaron Capon, manager John Lambert brought on young winger Fletcher Holman and striker Leke Ademola.
Both players have featured in Eastbourne’s youth sides respectively this season and show impressive numbers. Ademola is a young and pacey forward with a real eye for goal, a player that looks at home in the tough environment that men’s semi-pro football can be. Arguably no player in Town’s side can get the fans off their feet quite like the striker who isn’t afraid to showcase his talent.
Constantly conjuring up tricks to leave defenders on the floor is a brave move for such a young player to do against fully grown adults, who can often take such embarrassment as a personal insult, is the sort of ability which has seen the likes of League Two’s Colchester United keep tabs on his development.
Ademola hasn’t just featured for the first team but continues getting regular game time for Eastbourne’s under 23’s and under 18’s respectively. So far this season the striker has netted an incredible 12 goals in six games for the under 18’s, as well as three in three games for the under 23’s.
Ademola showcased his ability after just five minutes of being on the pitch as he slotted home the ball into an empty net after his original effort had bounced back off the post. The forward was close to making it a brace on the night, all but for the post denying him what would have been a stunning second as he curled the ball against the woodwork from range.
Eastbourne’s talent show for the evening didn’t stop there however, as Ademola was joined by winger Fletcher Holman.
Holman, like his fellow teammate Ademola, has featured regularly for the under 18’s and under 23’s sides and boasting just as good of a record.
The winger has scored six across his six appearances in the SCFL under 18 East League, along with a single strike in three games for the under 23 squad. Holman’s ability is matched stride for stride with his work rate, constantly up and down his favoured right wing in both attack and defence, clearly a demanding trait manager John Lambert has instilled on his players.
Holman was rewarded for his gritty and workman like performance, as he was in the right place at the right time to tap in the last of Eastbourne’s six goals on the night after Ademola’s strike was parried by Midhurst & Easebourne’s keeper Josh Bird.
The last of Town’s impressive performing talents of the evening was midfielder Jack Samways. Unlike his previously mentioned team-mates, Samways’s was lucky enough to be picked in the starting line-up having also impressed for the clubs under 23’s.
Despite not playing in a forward position unlike Holman and Ademola, Samways has still managed to find the net three times in 12 games for the first team and scored arguably the best goal of the game.
It was on the hour mark when the midfielder picked up a loose ball just outside of the penalty box after a defensive error by goalkeeper Bird, who was too slow in getting back onto his line, as Samways’s simply lofted the ball over him and into the open goal to get both applauds from his teammates and the Eastbourne fans alike.
The only concern for Eastbourne is if they can keep hold of their top talent. The club will be aware of their neighbourly rivals Eastbourne Borough and Lewes FC, two sides who reside above themselves when it comes to divisions, who could easily help themselves and poach any upcoming players that catch their eye. At least for the time being, the fans at the Saffrons can continue to see the talent on show.
The club will now turn their attention away from the cup and back to league duties, as they face Crawley Down Gatwick away in the next round of SCFL Premier games. The young players have now shown they have the ability, confidence, and desire to play in a first team environment, but the question is can they produce on a weekly basis?
The club is currently sitting in mid-table but will need to break into the top two places if they want to achieve promotion. 23 points from 15 games is a decent return but if the club can continue to develop the likes of Ademola, Holman and Samways then there’s no reason as to why a top two place couldn’t become a reality soon.