Tom Blair nets hat-trick as Dorchester thump Eastbourne in FA Trophy

BY: Neil Walton – Dorset Echo Sport (@EchosportNeil)


DORCHESTER Town’s Tom Blair scored a terrific hat-trick as the Magpies thumped higher-league Eastbourne Borough 4-0 to advance to the FA Trophy second round with a memorable triumph.

Blair also assisted an Antonio Diaz goal as Dorchester reached the last 32 with a superb display.

In the most recent meeting between the sides in 2014, a solitary Sam Lanahan strike saw off Borough in a 1-0 win.

There were no Magpies survivors from that game in the starting line-up but Dorchester did name a completely unchanged group of 15 players, both in their starting line-up and their bench, from the side named prior to their 6-1 thrashing of Staines Town on Tuesday evening.

New signing Nick Hutchings was absent while midfielders Luke Winsper and Dom Panesar-Dower, who have been struggling with sickness and diarrhoea, again failed to make the matchday squad.

Their fellow midfield colleague Billy Lowes was heavily involved in the first chance of the game as Dorchester put testing, windy conditions to one side.

Sam Jackson and Blair had helped to create the opening for Lowes following excellent combination play on the wing, with the latter forcing home goalkeeper Mark Smith into action in the third minute.

Eastbourne were then suckered on the counter as Dorchester earned a dream start to the encounter.

Borough’s Joel Rollinson swept over an early cross for Adam Liddle to strike an attempt against Kingsley Latham’s crossbar and Dorchester immediately broke upfield, Blair latching onto a pinpoint through ball and easily nutmegging Smith.

Looking to restore parity, Liddle was proving to be the Sports’ dangerman and the forward won a corner following a couple of half-chances, but the set-piece was snuffed out by the Magpies.

With Eastbourne dominating possession, Dorchester were restricted to few chances but they again ensured Smith was the busier keeper with another clear sight of goal.

Harry Kite showed his midfield nous to pick out Diaz and the Spaniard’s strike was brilliantly denied by a tremendous save from Smith, using his legs.

Unperturbed by that opportunity, Borough continued to probe the Dorchester defence but still could not work Latham into serious action.

Smith was again called upon before the interval, this time to prevent an own goal following a home defender’s goalbound touch – the error arising from neat play between Blair and Murray.

With Eastbourne’s attack misfiring, the Sports’ lack of creation placed a greater emphasis on solid defending but the hosts were undone by a long ball as Dorchester doubled their lead almost immediately after the restart.

Blair claimed the assist, crunching his delivery from range over an uncertain home defence to supply Diaz who tucked home confidently past Smith.

All the clear-cut opportunities were being conjured by seventh-tier Dorchester and the Magpies should have been 3-0 up on their sixth-tier opponents, only for Blair to miss from six yards after Jackson’s delightful ball.

The winger made no mistake on the hour though, finishing off more stellar work from his team-mates.

Diaz leapt prodigiously to win an aerial duel and release Murray, whose cross from the right was buried clinically by Blair.

Dorchester’s remarkable performance sent their travelling fans into ecstasy once more as Blair slotted in his hat-trick in the 66th-minute for his fifth goal in two games.

Blair was handed possession inside the Eastbourne box and he skipped past centre-back Harry Ransom before beating Smith for a third time to establish a deserved 4-0 lead.

By scoring his side’s fourth goal, Blair’s strike was the 14th in three away games for a rejuvenated Dorchester side who were well on course to win their fourth straight away game.

In reply, Left-back Kristian Campbell somehow missed from six yards, while a hopeful cross landed on top of Latham’s crossbar as Eastbourne’s woeful day in front of goal continued.

When Latham’ services were required, it was merely to paw a wayward cross around the post as Dorchester coasted through to the second round, £6,000 richer.

Eastbourne: Smith, Adebayo-Rowling, Campbell, Wills, Ransom, Gardiner, Cox, Torres, Liddle, Hall, Rollinson. Subs not used: Walker, Dawes, Blackmore, Briggs, Adebowale

Magpies: Latham, Egan, Martin, Carmichael, Bailey, Kite, Murray (Williams 85), Lowes, Blair (Rose 73), Diaz (Rodriguez 79), Jackson. Sub not used: Pope

Referee: Tom Bishop