EASTLEIGH missed out on the opportunity of trying to narrow the gap on Skrill Conference South lead ers Bromley this afternoon when Eastbourne Borough’s Priory Lane pitch failed a 2pm pitch inspection.

Despite more adverse weather overnight, the surface had been declared fit for play after a 9am inspection.

And with Bromley’s home game against Concord Rangers having already been postponed, it offered Richard Hill’s men the chance to make up ground on the pace-setting Ravens, who had moved 11 points clear of the Spitfires with a 3-1 New Year’s Day win at Ebbsfleet United.

But an early afternoon downpour made conditions precarious in the view of match referee Anthony Coggins who called the game off.

A statement issued by Eastbourne Borough shortly after 2pm said: “Following a pitch inspection this afternoon by the match official, the Skrill South fixture versus Eastleigh is off.

“The pitch was playable after a 9am inspection and up until a deluge at 1.45pm. The referee inspected the pitch at 2pm and called the game off due to the waterlogged conditions.”

Eastleigh boss Richard Hill was unimpressed by his team having to make a wasted journey to east Sussex, given that more heavy rain had been widely forecast.

He said: “We have some very, very intelligent people in this world whose job is to predict the weather.

“Granted they’re not always right, but they’re not often wrong either and this weather we’re getting now was predicted two days ago.

“Eastbourne have done everything right today and our league doesn’t let you call a game off the day before, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the pitch was 50-50 before this rain was forecast.

“We’ve got a duty of care to people who travel long distances and coming round the M25 today wasn’t good. It’s also costly on fuel.

“But saying all that, I appreciate that we’ve got to try and get football matches on.”

Gosport Borough’s SCS trip to Paul Doswell’s Sutton United also fell foul of the wet weather.

It compounds a miserable start to the new year for the Privett Park club who suffered another setback earlier this week when the temporary tarpaulin roof on their storm-damaged clubhouse was slashed by vandals. Councillors and volunteers rallied round to fix the damage and around £2,000 has been pledged to the club following an appeal to the local community. Although the clubhouse building is insured, its contents are not.

Friday night’s eagerly-awaited Sydenhams Premier showdown between Blackfield & Langley and Sholing was also postponed as was the whole of today’s Wessex and Puma Engineering Hampshire Premier League programme.