Un-four-tunate Fisher, Spitfires on Fire


Conference South

A memorable afternoon at the Silverlake Stadium watched by a good crowd, saw the Spitfires storm past Fisher Athletic with an extremely satisfying result and performance.

Things could not have gone any better for Jason Dodd’s side in a healthy win with not only four goals scored, but another clean sheet for the excellent James Pullen and his defence.

On this Easter Saturday, Eastleigh truly shone and continued where they left off with their fine home form that has seen them pick up four straight league wins on home turf.

Both Danny Smith and Jamie Brown served the final game of their suspensions, whilst Francis Benali was out of the squad due to a suspected broken arm. Darren Wheeler being the only change from last weekend’s starting eleven, coming in for the injured Benali.

Eastleigh made a bright start to the game with Steve Watts finding the back of the net with just two minutes on the clock. The flag on the near side ruling the goal out for offside, as the Eastleigh forward looked to make an early impact against his former club.

There was a brief scare for the home side when Athletics’ Gavin Tomlin broke loose from the Eastleigh centre halves to create himself a glorious opportunity, only to let himself down by a poor finish.

CARL WILSON-DENIS punished the visitors with the very next attack of the game in the fifth minute. Andy Forbes, the provider, staying on side down the right flank – squaring to his left to find Wilson-Denis unmarked in the centre. The Eastleigh forward’s first shot was blocked but Carl made no mistake with the follow up to give his side the perfect start with an early lead.

Having taken the lead, it was Eastleigh’s job to stay in front. James Pullen doing his part when Fisher’s long punt up the park saw Jeff Goulding get in behind the Eastleigh defence. Pullen was decisive and alert to the danger as he raced off his line to clear the ball at the feet of the Fisher forward.

A spell of pressure from the visitors saw a couple of shaky moments. Darren Wheeler attempting an extravagant overhead clearance, conceding a free kick in a promising position. Fortunately nothing came of this particular incident. Moments later Tarkan Mustafa had to tidy up the pieces following a poor header from Steve West back towards his own goal that fell well short of it’s intended target.

Pullen saved at his near post to tip Tomlin’s effort wide of goal on 25 minutes, midway through the half, before Eastleigh finally got going again.

The goalscorer, Wilson-Denis came very close to doubling his tally with a good shot on the turn that whistled just wide of the mark.

With seven minutes of the half remaining, Darren Wheeler picked up a nasty knock to his ribs forcing him to be replaced prematurely. David Hughes was promptly introduced to the action, and with his first touch, the midfield maestro put in a killer ball for Liam Green who should have done a lot better - his off-balanced shot sailing over the crossbar.

Before the half was up, Eastleigh were brimming with confidence, in particular Andy Forbes who left his marker Lenny Piper for dead before running the width of the pitch and finding Steve Watts. Wilson-Denis was perhaps a little hard done by with the offside decision that followed, but again, Eastleigh showed a glimpse of their capabilities going forward as the half came to an end.

HALF TIME – Eastleigh 1-0 Fisher Athletic

The second half that followed was all about Eastleigh, as they literally dominated from back to front winning their personal battles all over the park and combined perfectly as a team to pick up a thoroughly well-deserved three points.

Seconds into it though, Jeff Goulding’s improvised effort that bounced up awkwardly off his shin before doing well to recover with a well-hit arrowed volley, flew across the face of goal.

Once the Spitfires got back on top, there was only one side in it.

Andy Harris’ long throw from the left led to Steve Watts getting his header on target but lacking power, the keeper Paul Nicholls had an easy save to make. This being Eastleigh’s first chance of many in the second forty-five.

A precisely worked, neat interchange from Carl Wilson-Denis and Liam Green saw Watts scoop the ball high and wide to finish the move on a negative, but the pressure was mounting and the former Fisher man was itching to score.

STEVE WATTS got his just rewards five minutes in, all thanks to Andy Forbes’ superb header at the back post, from David Hughes’ deep free kick. Another flick on found Watts inside the six-yard box, who made no mistake diverting his header past the keeper from close range to double Eastleigh’s advantage.

Just before the hour mark, Pullen was on his guard once more to deny Tomlin in front of goal as Fisher upped their game slightly in search of a goal on the off chance.

The Eastleigh stopper kept out a Chris Piper low drive minutes later, diving low to his left to gather the ball with safe hands.

Having come out of these few chances unscathed, Eastleigh again took the game to their opponents with a further onslaught.

Carl Wilson-Denis looked to make the most of Asher Hudson’s error, the ball bouncing over the centre back’s head, with the former Havant and Newport striker deciding to take a pop at goal from just inside his own half.

Nicholls in the Fisher goal had his back to the ball and was off his line, Wilson-Denis doing his best to take advantage, and would have done had the shot been on target.

Making his Eastleigh debut, former Southampton Under 18’s starlet, Craig Richards took to the field to replace Steve Watts.

The young full back starred for the very successful Saints academy, but having suffered horrendous injuries at the end of last season, Richards has been provided with the chance to prove and regain his fitness, here at the Silverlake Stadium.

There was still time for plenty more action. Pullen yet again at the thick of things pulling off a save right out of the top drawer to keep his clean sheet in tact from a well struck free kick right on the edge of the area.

At the other end, the drama continued with Pullen’s opposite number at the fore, albeit for the wrong reasons. Coming out of goal, Paul Nicholls stepped a yard out of his area before handling the ball. The referee brandished a yellow card, as there was clearly no goalscoring opportunity.

Eastleigh dished out their own punishment with a goal from the resulting free kick.

Andy Forbes, who had been everywhere and part of everything good about the Spitfires’ play, was involved in this goal just like he had been for the previous two. Liam Green’s free kick was met by a great leap from Forbes whose header was parried into the path of STEVE WEST. West followed up with a poacher’s finish to bundle home the third with only his second goal in Eastleigh colours.

Things very nearly went from bad to worse for Fisher when Richards’ quick thinking picked out the path of Andy Forbes, immaculately with a long throw. Forbes went for goal with a deft chip that landed just the wrong side of goal.

The points now wrapped up securely with the three-goal cushion, Rob Marshall was thrown into the action in unfamiliar territory – as a striker! Carl Wilson-Denis made way but can be very pleased with his efforts and goalscoring performance, working the line tirelessly up the front.

Marshall clearly enjoyed his stint as a centre forward with a beaming smile on his face the whole time. The centre back did not look at all out of place when he held off an aerial challenge before teeing up Richards on the right, who fired over.

Two minutes remaining, and Marshall was still plugging away looking to make his mark on the game. Andy Forbes, man of the match by a long stretch, fed a perfect pass down the left touchline for Marshall, whose heavy first touch demonstrated exactly why his dominant position is as a defender! Rob nearly had the last laugh when he finally settled himself, pulling back on to his right foot and belting a powerful effort goal bound which flew inches over the cross bar.

Deservedly, ANDY FORBES got his name on the scoresheet with a well-taken finish in the 90th minute. David Hughes pulled the strings in the middle to assist and create the goal with a killer pass down the right. Forbes latched on to it in the blink of an eye to round the keeper and find the back of the net much to the delight of the home fans.

Deep into injury time Forbes almost made it five, but by then the game was long gone and had been in terms of Fisher’s chances, since the third goal.

With a bulk of the remaining fixtures being home games and the form that Eastleigh are in, there will be plenty more performances and goals to celebrate just yet, I am sure we would settle for five more games like this between now and the end of the season!

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 4-0 Fisher Athletic


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