Gary Elphick is steeling himself for his toughest afternoon in an Eastbourne Borough shirt tomorrow.

Borough travel to the Kassam Stadium to take on the Blue Square premier’s hottest team knowing anything short of their very best could result in a thrashing.

Oxford United are already seven points clear at the top of the table after dropping just four points from their opening ten games.

A crowd of over 10,000 turned out to see the Us continue their remarkable start to the season with a 2-0 win over Luton Town and another big turn out is expected tomorrow.

Few give Borough any chance of improving on the 6-3 defeat they suffered at the Kassam Stadium last season – not least the bookies who make them 7-1 outsiders – but Elphick believes they could cause a shock.

The defender said: “They are flying at the moment and everybody will expect them to win comfortably but it is in those kind of circumstances when we can surprise a few people.

“It is our toughest game of the year so far but we weren’t given much chance against Kidderminster and came away with a fantastic win “We went there and frustrated them and if we can do a similar job on Oxford you never know what can happen. It is important we keep it tight and the longer it stays goalless the crowd might start to get on their backs.

“There is no pressure on us so we can just go there and try to enjoy it. There will be a big crowd, it’s a great stadium so these are the type of games you have got to look forward to.”

Elphick began the season on the bench following his summer move from Havant and Waterlooville but has since overtaken Darren Baker in the pecking order.

The former Albion defender has formed a promising partnership with Marc Pullan at the back and both will need to be on their toes to deal with former Crawley striker Jamie Cook and the prolific James Constable.

He added: “They play with three up front and one just behind the strikers so it is going to be a busy afternoon. It is not just the defence though, the whole side will have to be disciplined if we are to get anything out of it.

“It will be a big test of character, especially if we concede an early goal, but we have not been thrashed by anyone yet this season and I don’t expect us to buckle tomorrow.”

Borough will be without skipper Paul Armstrong after he aggravated a hip injury in the 1-1 draw against Chester last Saturday.

Armstrong is expected to be sidelined for two weeks but Ben Austin is fit again following a knee injury and will return at right-back.

Striker Jamie Taylor has also recovered from the virus which ruled him out of the Chester game and is likely to replace Liam Enver-Marum up front.

Meanwhile, Borough have signed former Albion defender Ollie Rowe after he impressed for the reserves in the 0-0 draw against Millwall in midweek. Borough are also continuing to monitor the progress of former Bristol Rovers professionals Lee Davidson and James Fraser and ex-Salisbury winger Billy Franks who also played in the game.

Oxford: Clarke, Batt, Creighton, Foster, Sandwith, Bulman, Murray, Clist, Green, Constable, Cook. Subs from: Turley, Perry, Midson, Chapman, Potter.

Eastbourne: Jordan, Austin, Pullan, Elphick, Jenkins, N Crabb, Brown, Weatherstone, M Crabb, Atkin, Taylor. Subs from: Knowles, Smart, Enver-Marum, Smith, Johnson, Baker.