Happy New Year!


Conference South

Eastleigh today gave all fans the best possible start to 2007 with a fine performance against fellow strugglers Basingstoke, who have won just once all season.

The Spitfires completed an excellent turnover of points over the festive season with 7 out of 9 gained, building on the 1-0 away win against Basingstoke and Saturday's draw with Eastbourne.

Andy Forbes continued his fine form, adding his seventh and eight goals in the league for the season with Carl Wilson-Denis also on the scoresheet with a phenomenal strike.

On this New Years Day match up, the second between these two sides within a short space of time - Jason Dodd named an unchanged side from the Eastbourne starting eleven.

Early in the game, the visitors seemed to be the quickest out of the blocks and looked to put pressure on the Eastleigh back four. On six minutes, Basingstoke right back Steven Dell put in a deep cross only to see the fit-again Chris Collins emerge on to the scene with an important header to cut out the dangerous delivery.

Former Eastleigh striker James Taylor was involved in the next attack on James Pullen’s goal as he flicked the ball out to the left wing, where Robert Watkins whipped the ball into a packed six-yard box. As ever, the Eastleigh stopper restored stability with typically fine handling, clutching it to his chest under immense pressure.

After this brief few moments, Eastleigh gradually found their stride and began to create chances of their own. Danny Smith split the opposition’s defence in two to find David Hughes in acres of space. The midfield maestro perhaps could have done better with the delivery with Andy Forbes waiting in the centre but it was slightly overhit and the chance was gone.

Then came the heavy downpour causing undesirable conditions to compete, however neither side let this be an obstacle in what was a very open first 45 minutes.

Andy Forbes was unlucky not to open the scoring when Tarkan Mustafa played a smart ball in that ricocheted into the path of the in form striker. Forbes took the ball out of his feet with a good first touch before his effort was deflected for a corner kick with what was a vital interception.

Just six minutes after this chance, Eastleigh took the lead through ANDY FORBES. A quickly taken free kick from David Hughes caught Basingstoke completely off guard and by surprise as Forbes’ header made it’s way to the back of the net with the help of keeper Stuart Searle who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent the Spitfires taken a 20th minute lead.

There was now a spring in Eastleigh’s step as they began to take the game to Basingstoke. The chances came thick and fast - Darren Wheeler had a left wing cross half-cleared that fell kindly for Carl Wilson-Denis. His shot was goal bound but it struck a Basingstoke defender to win a corner with the pressure now building.

In similar fashion, Danny Smith had an effort turned behind following good approach play, Steve Forbes with the chest down to set up the strike. Moments later Eastleigh were at it again. A fine corner from the left was met with a crisp header from Steve Forbes that had to be hacked off the goal line to deny a second goal.

Basingstoke were looking increasingly vulnerable defensively none more so than when the skipper Joe Dolan collided with teammate David Ray leaving a gaping hole in their defences. Eastleigh had numbers forward but failed to make the most of a golden opportunity on the break. Darren Wheeler was denied by the trailing legs of Searle and the follow up from Andy Forbes was completely out of character as the shot blazed over the cross bar with the goal left wide open.

Just when Jason Dodd’s side could and should have been two goals to the good it became 1-1 when Basingstoke equalised on the stroke of half time. A moment’s lack of concentration led to a free kick to be conceded on the right hand side. JAMES TAYLOR met Steven Dell’s cross with a header that found its way to goal to dishearten his former side going in at half time.

HALF TIME – Eastleigh 1-1 Basingstoke

Despite the late blow at the end of the first forty-five, Eastleigh began the second half in high spirits and soon were back in front when CARL WILSON-DENIS scored with a peach of a strike just four minutes in. The ball was worked across the pitch from left to right superbly from Eastleigh. Mustafa played the ball in to the big front man who with his back to goal brought it down and smashed home delightfully all in one swift movement with both posts being rattled before it nestled safely in the back of the net.

Eastleigh could not have wished for a better start and from here on there would only be one outcome. Admittedly, Basingstoke put up a real fight but couldn’t find a way through the heroic and commanding defending from the Spitfires.

The former Havant & Waterlooville forward was again in action minutes later when Andy Forbes left the ball for Wilson-Denis following a fine approach play from Wheeler. In the end the shot fell far short of troubling the keeper.

Shortly after the hour mark, Eastleigh were awarded a free kick in a good position just five yards outside the box on the left hand side. Andy Forbes struck it straight at the wall where it rebounded for Hughes whose super strike whistled narrowly over the bar as the home side looked to put the game beyond any doubt.

With the game reaching it latter stages, Basingstoke really did throw everything at Eastleigh in search of salvaging a point. For each and every ball that was chucked into the Spitfires’ penalty area, James Pullen was there assuredly showing calmness and bringing yet more stability when it was most needed.

Pullen had to be on guard when David Ray lashed a 30-yard attempt at goal. Almost effortlessly the Eastleigh stopper tipped the ball over making a powerful stinging drive look easy to save.

There was still plenty of action and drama to come in what was a very exciting afternoon’s worth of football at the Silverlake Stadium, watched by over 800.

Andy Forbes failed to hit the target on 75 minutes following fantastic determination and skill from Danny Smith who just kept running before teeing it up for Forbes.

Back at the other end, Pullen did well to keep out a low shot that had plenty of zip and bounce on it. With two Basingstoke players following in, Francis Benali made an incredible and vital challenge sliding in to hook the ball away from danger.

It was edge of your seat, nail-biting stuff for both sets of supporters. For Eastleigh their was fear their hard work might just count for nothing had the visitors found a goal, and for Basingstoke there was the thought of taking nothing away from the match when they are so desperately in need of points, with everyone watching on attentively with chances falling at either end.

The defining moment came seven minutes from time when the hard working Danny Smith forced his way through before being held back inside the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and ANDY FORBES did all the rest from 12 yards planting an unstoppable kick in the bottom left hand corner for his second and Eastleigh’s third goal of the game.

Stout defending from Eastleigh saw the match out and another fine performance came to an end to take all three points.

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 3-1 Basingstoke



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