Bognor 0-0 Eastleigh
Saturday 18th February - Bognor Regis Town 0 Eastleigh 0
Report by Ray Murphy
Eastleigh’s second successive scoreless Nationwide South draw but a run of matches that sees them with only one defeat from their last eight games and three consecutive clean sheets for James Pullen.
When the sides last met back at the start of December, Bognor gave Eastleigh a lesson in finishing with a thumping 4-0 victory. On Saturday if Eastleigh had taken their early chances they could have won this match and secured three points. Steve Watts was still unavailable owing to suspension having been carried over from the midweek abandoned fixture.
Eastleigh started on the ascendancy though an early piece of confusion in the Eastleigh defence saw goalkeeper James Pullen and centre back Karim El-Salahi have a heated exchange between them over the failure to clear a Bognor break. For the Spitfires in the opening ten minutes Danny Smith had a long-range effort just off target and an Andy Forbes header from a Smith free kick just wide also.
The game became very open with both sides eager to attack. On twelve minutes, again from long range, David Hughes saw a shot saved by Bognor goalkeeper Craig Stoner. This was quickly followed by two chances in a minute for the home side. Scott Chamberlain added himself to the list of players in missing the target from long range when his thirty-yard drive went just past the post. Next Ben Watson and Ben Johnson both combined on the edge of the area culminating in Watson shooting over the advancing Pullen but again wide of the goal.
Andy Forbes saw a header from a Tarkan Mustafa cross saved by Stoner on nineteen minutes whist four minutes later Watson got behind the Eastleigh defence but shot straight into the arms of Pullen. On the half hour Smith saw a low drive from just outside the box bring an excellent parried save from, Stoner, the loose ball finally again arriving for Smith but his second effort was blocked by a defender.
With eleven minutes to go to the interval Bognor’s leading scorer Luke Nightingale collected the ball in the area, neatly controlled and turned but his shot went over the bar, then shortly before half time Darren Wheeler skilfully created himself a chance on the edge of the box but only managed to fire his shot high over the bar.
Arguably Eastleigh had the better of the opening half, but the second period was a more even affair. The first chance fell for the home side nine minutes into the period. A long ball from the Bognor defence appeared to have been intercepted by Ian Oliver but the ball only fell perfectly for Nightingale, but the striker wastefully shot wide of the goal. Two minutes later at the opposite end a driven cross from Mustafa was turned just wide by Smith.
Steve Forbes headed a Wheeler cross just off target on sixty two minutes then six minutes later Nightingale’s cross was volleyed back across goal by Richard Hudson but again without worrying Pullen. The best chance of the game fell on seventy minutes when following an Eastleigh free kick Bognor Regis could not get the ball cleared. Inside the six-yard area Liam George saw the ball eventually fall invitingly for him but all the Spitfires substitute could do was fire over the bar.
Jamie Brown saw a low angled drive saved by Stoner on seventy-four minutes whilst Bognor substitute Michael Birmingham wasted a good opportunity a minute later. The final goalbound shot of the afternoon came courtesy of a David Hughes free kick though his sweetly struck shot was fielded by Stoner, the ‘keeper who was awarded man of the match by the Bognor sponsors.