Six-goal thriller friendly - Eastleigh v Saints


Pre-Season Friendly

A staggering 2,863 crammed into the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon for the traditional yearly friendly with Championship neighbours Southampton.

Almost a year ago to the day, Jason Dodd was unveiled as an Eastleigh signing. 12 months on and the Dell legend had completed the season as manager having taken over the helm in December and guiding the Spitfires to safety. Before, just a week ago Jason's amazing journey saw him appointed first team coach at Southampton – and so it was fitting that his first game in his new role was back at Eastleigh, where today he deservedly got an excellent reception from all in attendance.

Both sides had new players to display. Southampton welcomed their loan signing Adam Hammill from Liverpool, along with two trialists, former Liverpool, Portsmouth, and Rangers full back Gregory Vignal and Tomasz Vasko, a Hungarian International centre half.

For Eastleigh, on the back of their midweek four goal demolition of Poole Town, David Hughes and Paul Doswell also presented their latest acquisitions. Damian Scannell and Warren Ryan were on show once more, but the most recent captures, Chris Piper and Anthony Riviere, who signed just last night following their release from Fisher, were drafted in for their first Eastleigh appearance.

With so many flooding into the stadium, the kick off had to be delayed by five minutes whilst the congestion settled. Any late comers might just have missed the opening goal, which came just five minutes in.

Danny Smith played the ball down the inside right channel expertly for Andy Forbes and despite appeals for offside, the flag stayed down. His weak effort was parried well by Kelvin Davis in the Southampton goal, but it came back to Forbes who was able to hook the ball to his left for DAMIAN SCANNELL.

The former Fisher winger was presented with a golden opportunity to net his first goal for the club, and made no mistake turning the ball past the helpless keeper to race Eastleigh into an early lead.

Having got the early goal, the Spitfires looked confident in possession of the ball with some impressive passing, and at that stage Eastleigh did not look at all out of place, or depth, against their illustrious opponents.

The Saints very nearly found themselves further behind when, in the 12th minute a fine piece of individual skill from Steve Watts saw the imposing centre forward jink past three defenders on the left, before aiming a powerful shot towards Davis' near post, the Saints keeper doing well to keep the effort out.

Despite this very bright start from Eastleigh, Southampton conjured up an equaliser just two minutes later. Rudi Skacel, in an advanced position on the overlap, linking up well with Mario Licka, managed to keep the ball in play to pull it back for DAVID MCGOLDRICK. The Saints youngster found himself completely unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and struck the ball with such venom leaving James Pullen no chance of making the save.

This goal led to a sustained period of pressure from George Burley's men, with Grezgorz Rasiak finding himself in the clear just moments later, only to be denied by the legs of Pullen.

McGoldrick, then glanced a header goalwards from Adam Lallana's cross. Pullen found himself at full stretch as he fumbled the ball at first before smothering to make the save.

In the 18th minute, the visitors took the lead through ADAM HAMMILL. Eastleigh's Warren Ryan played a careless ball across the face of goal straight to the feet of Hammill.

Ryan's error then led to a panic in front of goal and a scramble as Lallana teed up McGoldrick. The Saints goalscorer smashed the ball against his strike partner Rasiak who couldn't get himself out of the way on the goal line, before Adam Hammill finally dealt Eastleigh the punishment the awful pass deserved initially in the build up. 1-2.

On his debut, Hammill the most lively player on the park, continued his very impressive display with a fine effort cutting in from the left, getting the ball out of his feet and unleashing a stunning drive that Pullen matched with an equally good save diving across his goal.

A brief attack from the home side saw Andy Forbes knee the ball down for Steve Watts who steadied himself for the volley but blazed comfortably over the cross bar from distance.

Meanwhile, Southampton back on the attack, came within a whisker of extending their lead. McGoldrick was held back by Marshall to the left of goal, and from the free kick, Hammill floated the ball across to the near post to pick out McGoldrick who headed narrowly wide of the mark with the goal gaping.

Just before this incident, Andy Forbes and Kevin Davis collided, the Southampton goalkeeper came out of it worse, and despite managing to get through the next couple of minutes after the challenge, still felt the after effects and was withdrawn to be replaced by young stopper Michael Poke, as a precautionary measure.

With six minutes of the half left, MARIO LICKA popped up in the Eastleigh penalty area to hook home goal number three for the Saints.

Jermaine Wright provided the chipped cross from the right flank for Rasiak to nod it back in to the danger area from the far post. The Czech midfielder picked up the ball with a powerful effort to find the top corner in style.

The half came to a close with Eastleigh pulling one back from the penalty spot a minute before the break. Rudi Skacel looked to play a long ball forward but Andy Forbes charged the full back down getting lucky with the ricochet. Forbes then played a square pass to the left for Watts who unselfishly returned the pass.

Bearing down on goal, Eastleigh's top marksman Forbes was tripped by Darren Powell from behind. The referee awarded the penalty with no hesitation and ANDY FORBES brushed himself down before confidently beating the outstretched arm of Michael Poke, to the keepers right.

HALF TIME – Eastleigh 2-3 Southampton

After a thoroughly entertaining first half display, which brought with it five goals, the interval saw Southampton literally field a different side, replacing all ten outfield players for the second forty-five.

Eastleigh made just one change during the break with Darren Wheeler introduced to the action at Danny Smith's expense.

The half began at lightning speed. Just 15 seconds in, Southampton had found the back of the net, and in true style.

Nathan Dyer's sheer pace saw him get to the byline down the right with relative ease, before delivering an inch perfect cross for BRADLEY WRIGHT-PHILLIPS who headed home from close range to restore Saints' two goal cushion – the visitors coming out of the blocks with all guns blazing.

Southampton were now in full control and were devastating in possession, penetrating the Eastleigh defence on several occasions.

On 53 minutes, Marek Saganoswki's side footed effort from Andrew Surman's defence splitting pass, saw Pullen on his guard to save well to his right.

Following an Eastleigh substitution, Andy Forbes being replaced by Justin Bennett, who, any Spitfires fan will tell you just how good it is to be seeing back in action after his season on the sidelines, Southampton were forced to make a change.

Spaniard, Inigo Idiakez pulled up with a hamstring chasing down Nathan Dyer's pass, and didn't stop to receive treatment. Instead Idiakez left straight for the changing room, prompting the return to the field for Adam Lallana.

On the hour mark, Justin Bennett saw his first real involvement in the action with intricate footwork in a tight space, to cleverly help the ball on to Steve Watts who forced a decent save out of Poke.

Damian Scannell, who had been Eastleigh's most lively player throughout the afternoon, burst on to the scene once more, and out of nothing produced a fine piece of skill and brilliance to fire just over the cross bar with a curling left footed effort.

Eastleigh had a further chance to claw a goal back when Steve Watts played the ball behind the Southampton defence for Bennett. The former Andover man found himself with just the keeper to beat, and were it not for a superbly timed, last-ditch tackle from trialist Tomasz Vasko, it may well have been 3-4.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, it was Southampton who took control once more. The best of the action seeing a Wright-Phillips effort bounce unluckily off the foot of the post, following superb vision from Lloyd James, just one of many talents to come out of the Saints academy.

Bradley, brought the ball down elegantly and instinctively went for goal with a neat chip over the advancing Pullen, only to see his effort strike the woodwork before being cleared to safety.

The Saints enjoyed a spell of true possession football, which Eastleigh, on the other hand were made to endure. Warren Ryan who dominated in the air and generally put in a decent performance all round, couldn't help but concede a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area to stop Nathan Dyer progressing further.

French trialist, Gregory Vignal who is looking to secure a permanent move to St. Mary's in order to fill the void left by Gareth Bale, stepped up for the free kick and went for the top right hand corner. Pullen did very well to claw the ball away to evade the danger.

With time running down, Saints continued to threaten, this time Saganowski looked to extend the lead with a curling effort, but second half substitute Jack Smith covered exceptionally well with a saving header.

Ten minutes remaining, and there was still to be no let up for Eastleigh as Southampton drove forward in numbers time and again.

Andrew Surman played the ball to Wright-Phillips whose great movement helped him to lose his marker in an instant, before turning and firing just inches wide of goal with his weaker left foot.

Three minutes later, Marek Saganowski was brought down by Damian Scannell who had got back well to take up defensive duties temporarily, but blocked the Polish forwards path unfairly, Andy Puckett having already missed making the tackle. Saganowski stepped up to take the kick but fired just over.

A minute before full time, Scannell won possession well in midfield before playing the ball forward for Bennett, but the Eastleigh forward was slightly off balance and shot high and wide, bringing to an end an enjoyable afternoon of football which proved to be a decent run out for both teams.

Unfortunately, Southampton came out of the game with two injuries, those being goalkeeper Kelvin Davis who damaged shoulder ligaments early on, and that of Inigo Idiakez who suffered that hamstring injury early in the second half.

Eastleigh may not have won this time around, but this could indeed prove to be a good omen. After winning this time last year, Eastleigh went on to have a dismal season narrowly avoiding relegation. Stating the obvious now, you do not get points in pre-season!

Therefore it is the league season we should be worrying about, these games are a valuable exercise in terms of fitness and looking at different options. Other than that, so long as we get off to a good start in the league, that really is what matters most.

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 2-4 Southampton


All match pictures by Jozef Montigue


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