Eastleigh 0-2 St. Albans

EASTLEIGH V ST. ALBANS
18TH MARCH 2006

CONFERENCE SOUTH





St. Albans score two-second half goals to take all three points.

It was the visitors who started the game the better side. Paul Hakim, the St Albans centre forward, skilfully played in his strike partner only for his effort to go just wide of Wayne Shaw’s goal in only the second minute of the game.

Eastleigh slowly began to get in the game and could have gone ahead. Ryan Ashford was brought down outside the St. Albans goal and it was Ashford who stepped up to fire the ball from 30 yards. The superb strike was matched by an even better save as Paul Bastock dived through the air to prevent Ashford’s effort from going into the top left hand corner.

The home side built on this pressure with a few more Ashford free kicks coming close and Martin Thomas also had a good chance as he ran on to new signing Richard Hodgson’s through ball to shoot at goal but the shot lacked the power to cause any trouble.

Paul Hakim somehow worked an opening when it appeared there was nothing on as he took it round two Eastleigh players before squaring the ball across goal to set up a team mate, eventually the ball was deflected for a corner ball.

Despite St. Albans coming close, Eastleigh went down the other end of the pitch and played some good passing football. Firstly Ryan Ashford picked up the ball within shooting distance but instead of taking the ball further to punish the lack of closing down from the defence he tried to hit the ball on the half volley and the ball sailed wide of goal for a goal kick.

Minutes later another good move from Eastleigh resulted in a snap shot from Dave Town going just the wrong side of the post.

Just before half time, Eastleigh made another push to try and break the deadlock. The ball was moved brilliantly from defence to midfield to attack, however just when Eastleigh managed to get through to the back line the final ball lacked a bit of quality and the chance was gone.

HALF TIME – Eastleigh 0-0 St. Albans

Richard Hodgson could have and probably should have had a debut goal. Only one minute after the restart, the home side went on a positive attack down the left hand side with Ashford playing the ball to his right to find Dave Town who cleverly played in Hodgson who made a great run into the box to side foot the ball towards goal. Bastock, the St. Albans goalkeeper, only just kept the ball out as he smothered the ball at the second attempt.

St. Albans threatened to score in the 47th minute but Wayne Shaw made a smart stop to palm the ball around the post for a corner.

This was a probably warning that something might just come out of this spell of pressure from the visitors and this was indeed the case. In the 50th minute of the game, Paul Hakim, who had been troubling the Eastleigh defence all game with his pace and skill, hit a low drive towards goal and Wayne Shaw was beaten at his near post for St. Albans to take the lead.

Although a goal down, Eastleigh should have had an equaliser just six minutes later when Andy Forbes held up the ball well before laying it off for Ashford but with the goal at his mercy he somehow hit the ball wide and should have done a lot better.

The home side had another opportunity to bring the game level in the 58th minute. Ryan Ashford’s free kick from the left hand side evaded everyone in the box and found Dave Town who was unmarked at the back post, however his volley was hit high and wide.

Andy Forbes, the match winner at Eastbourne last week, had a golden chance to score as he raced through on goal and with only the keeper to beat he scuffed his shot when on another day he would have hit the back of the net without problem.

St. Albans raised their game once more with fifteen minutes to play. The visitors struck the cross bar and when the ball came down, Wayne Shaw was quick to get down low and claw the ball away from danger.

This was the beginning of a nasty turn of events. St. Albans doubled their lead with a header from Gary Elphick with five minutes left to play, punishing Shaw’s mistake of not collecting the ball cleanly.

In the celebration of the goal a St. Albans player was sent off for a second yellow card, for a mixture of “over-celebrating” and dissent, which perhaps was the catalyst for the violence seen after the game. Once again the trouble with the visiting support spoiled what was in fact a good game of football, it really isn’t what the game of football is about and it is not needed.

Eastleigh will need to show some character in their next game to overcome this defeat in the next match, but they were certainly not out-played today.

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 0-2 St. Albans

JAMIE MONTIGUE

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