1 Point closer to safety


Conference South

Eastleigh, this afternoon edged a point closer to safety with a draw to complete an unbeaten run throughout the jam-packed period of four games in eight days.

The Magpies edged the first half, though chances were few and far between for either side.

Andy Forbes made a blistering start to the second though and the game certainly livened up and became more open from there, with the highly impressive Gavin McCallum grabbing an equaliser towards the end.

It was David Hughes’ 202nd appearance for the Spitfires, the midfield maestro a great servant to the club.

There were numerous changes from the side that drew with Eastbourne on Wednesday. Karim El-Salahi and Steve West replaced Chris Collins and Rob Marshall in the centre of defence. Liam Green and Darren Wheeler dropped to the subs bench with Hughes and Andy Harris filling their places. The final change was Tarkan Mustafa coming in for Craig Richards.

A strong crowd of 755 watched on in the sunshine as both sides looked to put themselves out of the relegation equation, in need of points to make this mathematically a reality.

The visitors were the first to threaten through Gavin McCallum, a pacy front man who is on the books of Yeovil Town and has represented Canada at Under-18 and Under-20 levels. Evading a lunging tackle from Harris inside the penalty area, he got his shot away but James Pullen was more than equal to it.

Former Magpie, Jamie Brown, who spent six seasons at the Avenue Stadium, miscued a half volley comfortably wide of goal for Eastleigh’s first real attempt of the afternoon.

Shortly after, Andy Forbes rose well at the back post, only to head high over the crossbar from Ian Oliver’s free kick. Eastleigh, not for the want of trying, could not find a way through – similarly Dorchester were unable to break down their opponents.

Steve Watts did his best for the cause, proving to be a handful at times for the Dorchester defence. The former Fisher striker closed the ball down with real enthusiasm and effort before keeping the ball in play and delivering a decent cross, which unfortunately for Eastleigh was cut out by a last ditch header with Forbes the target.

Mick Jenkins’ men enjoyed a good spell of pressure midway through the half. A short corner from the left hand side spelled danger as Eastleigh made hard work of clearing their lines, when the ball came across.

In the next attack, Matt Groves got the better of Steve West as the Dorchester joint top goalscorer bore down on Pullen’s goal. The Eastleigh centre half, in desperate need to stop Groves got in a tangle, holding his man back and committing a foul.

In a nail biting moment, it looked as though a penalty kick would be awarded, with the Dorchester fans behind the goal celebrating wildly. Referee, David Rock, brought the play back for the first foul, right on the edge of the area deeming West’s actions worthy of a yellow card.

Eastleigh got off very lightly however, as Justin Keeler drilled the ball straight at the five man strong wall.

Groves continued to threaten along with McCallum, his very tricky strike partner. A long ball forward saw Pullen alert to the threat of Groves who had eased way into the eighteen yard box. The Spitfires keeper, made a perfect intervention with a sliding tackle that needed to be well timed and was.

Coming out of this patch unscathed, Eastleigh managed to finish the half the stronger side. With five minutes remaining, Tarkan Mustafa played the ball into Jamie Brown who chested down well with an excellent first touch, before hooking the ball across goal. James Hussey, the Dorchester stopper, was on hand to cut out the danger.

The half came to an end with Andy Forbes firing narrowly wide from a tight angle, to the right of goal. David Hughes’ quickly taken free kick to Danny Smith was threaded through a gap in the Magpies defence to pick out Forbes with a measured pass. It was a good chance, but more than anything it was pleasing to finally see a positive move from the home side as yet another hectic week of fixtures appeared to have had an impact on the players.

HALF TIME – Eastleigh 0-0 Dorchester

Jason Dodd could not have asked for a better start to the second half.

Spitfire legend, that is David Hughes, played an immaculate pass behind the Dorchester defence to create the opening goal of the game with just a minute played since the restart.

On side, to the right of goal, ANDY FORBES still had a bit to do following the brilliant assist. The in-form striker controlled the ball inside the area before turning his marker and side-footing the ball into the bottom right hand corner with a cool finish, his fourteenth Conference South goal of the season.

This very early goal livened the match up to a new level and seconds after taking the lead, the skipper Danny Smith hit a good volley just wide of the mark.

Eastleigh, all of a sudden looked more like the side that has pulled off some startling results of late with positive attacking play. Their next move started right from the back with James Pullen releasing the ball early with a splendid long throw to begin a counter attack.

Andy Harris latched on to it on the far side and played the ball behind the back four for the goalscorer Forbes to poke towards goal. Hussey raced off his line well and stood up at the strikers feet to pull off a reaction save from point blank range.

As time went on, the Spitfires continued to create chances, their next, just short of the hour mark with a quick flowing move. Ian Oliver delivered to the far post with a great knock over the top where Brown squared first time to find Watts in front of goal, who was denied by an excellent sliding block.

Dorchester’s best chance fell to Jamie Gleeson on 61 minutes, who nodded inches wide when Liam Cockerill was given far too much time and space to cross.

The Spitfires replaced their strike force with Carl Wilson-Denis coming on for Steve Watts and Darren Wheeler taking to the field as Andy Forbes made way. Brown was switched to the right of midfield in the shuffle.

Liam Green was the third and final change for Eastleigh, David Hughes the player replaced.

In the 77th minute, GAVIN MCCALLUM leveled the scores with a tidy finish, squeezing the ball into the corner at Pullen’s near post. Sonyo De-Mata’s positive run down the right flank was a key part in the goal as the substitute got past Oliver before feeding through for McCallum who grabbed the goal that his performance thoroughly warranted.

Almost instantly, Eastleigh were back again. Jamie Brown, taking the ball from the right flank, cut inside past several yellow shirts and was extremely unfortunate with the finish. Brown thumped the ball against the woodwork, rattling the cross bar against his former side.

The encounter petered out with Wilson-Denis’ tame low strike comfortably saved, and Smith’s header flying behind from a late corner the only other chances.

With other results going the right way for the Spitfires, a point was more than suffice, though of course a win would have been more desirable. On the day, there was nothing between the sides and a draw was probably a fair result as Dorchester edged the first half and Eastleigh were by far the better side in the second forty five.

Another three points should ensure our survival.

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 1-1 Dorchester



Popular posts from this blog

Evans jumps on board

Penalty heartbreak for Eastleigh in play-offs