Fisher Athletic 3-1 Eastleigh
Report by Ray Murphy
26th August 2006
It was a third straight defeat for Eastleigh but a third straight victory for home side Fisher Athletic. Eastleigh were bereft of the services of Robbie Marshall through injury giving a return from injury Chris Collins his first start of the season, whilst Ryan Ashford was also included for his first start of the season at the expense of Liam Green. Dave Town was suspended whilst Darren Wheeler passed a late fitness test but had to be content with a place on the bench.
The disappointment of the defeat led to a lengthy discussion in the changing room after the game with the whole squad, whilst the team’s management were left meeting late into the evening on their return to The Silverlake Stadium.
The game took some time to develop any pattern. Andy Forbes was caught by a late challenge in the opening couple of minutes, which saw his previously damaged ankle again be troublesome. It took though some twenty-four minutes before the first attempt on goal when former Millwall midfielder Anton Robinson, who had a spell at Eastleigh last season, break through but shot wide.
A minute later and Robinson’s shot was pushed out by Paul Musselwhite only to find lively Fisher striker Leroy Griffiths who was left holding his head in despair as his effort came away off the upright. On the half hour Ashford’s clipped shot from the edge of the box was saved by Paul Nicholls but the ex Havant & Waterlooville stopper was not troubled a minute later when Andy Forbes headed a David Hughes cross just wide.
As the home side started to get a grip on the game a great block from martin Thomas denied a chance for Fishers other potent striker Steve Watt. For Eastleigh, matters took a turn for the worse on thirty-eight minutes. Fisher defender Joel Kitamirike appeared to go right through the back of Steve Forbes. Following lengthy treatment, Steve Forbes was stretchered from the pitch and taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken nose and cheekbone and several stitches inserted in a wound on the eyelid. Kitamirike escaped with a yellow card. This also saw the departure of Andy Forbes with his ankle injury.
As the first half was drawing to a close, Watts headed on a clearance from Nicholls, which fell for Griffiths to try an overhead flick, which was saved by Musselwhite. With two minutes of stoppage time added a cross into the area was collected by Watts, he turned and shot the ball home but the ‘effort’ was disallowed as the striker was holding back Collins. There was still time for Fisher to have attempts falling again to Watts and Griffiths but blocked by Collins and Matt Bound respectively.
Seven minutes into the second period Watts and Griffiths again combined but Griffiths only managed to shot over. A dipping free kick from Ashford just cleared the Fisher bar before play switched to the opposite end where Watts was again unlucky with another close range effort just off target.
Living dangerously, Eastleigh finally went behind after fifty-nine minutes. A corner from Ahmed Deen was met at the near post by a firm header from Kitamirike, lucky still to be on the pitch, which flew inside the near post and give Fisher the lead.
Eastleighs response saw an Ashford cross headed wide by Hughes, then Ashford had another free kick narrowly off target. The home side were in no mood to sit back as they tasted victory was in their grasp. Nrada Bernard had a thirty-yard effort pushed away by Musselwhite then Robinson fired across the face of goal. Musselwhite then produced a stop from watts following another Deen corner. Jefferson Louis had a header from a Francis Benali cross wide of the target.
With a quarter of an hour to go Fisher added their second. A quick break from the Fisher half saw Griffiths gallop away before switching play with a pass to Watts. Watts fancy footwork in the area saw him curt inside where the ball arrived for Charley Hearn to fire low the second Fisher goal.
Wheeler produced another cross into the area but Hughes headed over before Fisher sealed their victory with a third on eight two minutes. Green was dispossessed in the middle of the park and as Fisher sprung forward Chris Piper played an inch perfect pass into Griffiths who flipped the ball up and over the oncoming Musselwhite and then planted into an empty goal.
It took Eastleigh eighty-eight minutes to force their first corner as they held court for the final minutes. From a Hughes cross, Brian Dutton’s off target header his Louis and the keeper had to stop the goalbound touch. In the final minute Eastleigh grabbed no more than a consolation goal Wheeler running on to a through ball before sliding the ball under the advancing Nicholls, but by then it was a case of too little, too late.