Eastleigh End Rooks Run - Lewes Defeated


Blue Square South

Sticking with the same eleven that made club history for Eastleigh last weekend in the 5-0 cup success, Ian Baird’s men took on the most consistent side in the division - an unbeaten Lewes sat at the top of the table going into this match.

The opening exchanges were fast and furious with both sides competing well at a high tempo. The tackles were flying in from all directions from the first whistle with David Hughes on the receiving end of a dangerous tackle inside 60 seconds.

Eastleigh begun the game well winning a couple of free kicks and a corner early on just about edging the play. On eight minutes, a late tackle by Paul Sales on Tom Selley led to a meleƩ on the halfway line which resulted in whistle-happy Harry Lennard producing the yellow card to both Paul Sales and Jamie Brown.

Sales then went from villain to hero in an instant as he produced a moment of glory to give Eastleigh the lead. In the build up to the goal, Sales was shoved to the ground falling in a heap under the referee’s nose though play was allowed to continue.

Rook’s goalkeeper, Steve Williams ventured from his goal trying to clear the ball, though his attempt fell right to the feet of a frustrated PAUL SALES (owing to the earlier decision not going his way). Letting off all his steam the Eastleigh striker hit the ball first time on the volley with venom, beating the stranded keeper from way out.

If you were one in disbelief and shock perhaps that Eastleigh had taken such an early lead against the table toppers, things were about to get even more comfortable for the Spitfires!

A mere two minutes later, the hosts were celebrating a quick fire double. A deep free kick from James Pullen was helped on kindly by the Lewes skipper Steve Robinson, the ball flying backwards towards his own goal. Who should be there to finish things off? ANDY FORBES. Back-pedalling, the in-form striker made it five goals in three games as he beat the keeper from close range with a neat header.

Eastleigh rampant, Lewes in disarray – the visitors suffered a further blow losing both their manager Steve King, and defender Jay Conroy in a matter of minutes. Paul Sales went up for a 50:50, aerial challenge with the Lewes right back; but it was Conroy who came out worse off.

Unfortunately, the former Crystal Palace youngster was then stretchered off and was rushed to hospital with concussion. King, the Lewes manager, let Lennard the referee, know his feelings about the matter claiming Sales had caused the injury deliberately in no uncertain terms and was abruptly escorted from the dugout and to the stand.

In a clear predicament, Lewes went about their game in a more attacking manner forcing Eastleigh back for large periods of play throughout the remainder of the first half.

Not that this affected Ian Baird and his men in the slightest as they swept up time and time again, soaking up the pressure comfortably with Luke Byles and Andy Harris in particular shining in a strong defensive unit.

The closest Lewes came to pulling a goal back was midway through the half when an Andrew Drury cross was met by a Paul Booth header who was denied by the woodwork.

Ten minutes before the break, Eastleigh came forward with Matt Hann coming ever so close as he ran down the left hand side before squeezing a shot inches wide of the post from a tight angle.

Dale Binns on the left flank made a surging run, getting into the penalty area but met his match in Karim El-Salahi, in whom there was no getting past.

Defending right from the very front, Damian Scannell made a clean tackle to win possession for David Hughes to sweep out to the right for Hann - the winger’s cross unluckily going out of play.

Finishing the half strongly having endured a number of attacks from Lewes, Eastleigh continued to play excellent football in the final third with Damian Scannell, Andy Forbes and Chris Piper all combining in a lovely move before the goalkeeper could intervene and thwart the imminent danger.

Into stoppage time, a certain Leroy Griffiths was introduced to the action against his former Havant & Waterlooville manager, as he bizarrely replaced the earlier substitute Lewis Hamilton bringing to an end yet another splendid 45 minutes of football for Eastleigh.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 2-0 Lewes

No more than a minute had been played since the restart when Sales was adjudged to have fouled going up for a header.

The referee gave the goalscorer a word of caution at which point, the Eastleigh striker signalled to the bench for a substitution to be made, in my view wisely and for the good of the team. Though it was through no fault of his own, the match official did appear to pull up on ‘petty’ fouls consistently which obviously would have run the risk of Sales being sent off and Eastleigh going down to ten men.

Acting on this, there was a welcome return to action for Steve Watts. The front man had not played a game since the 2-0 win over Braintree in August, but came back today from his injury troubles and did well.

There was no let up from Eastleigh as they continued their bravery with stout, resolute defending long into the game. Luke Byles made a phenomenal last ditch tackle to deny Matt Groves, before El-Salahi stood tall from the resulting corner to keep Lewes at bay early in the second half.

Watts and Forbes linked neatly with lovely hold up play before the latter played the ball in for Hann who had a powerful shot blocked from the edge of the area.

Hann continued to pose a threat and danger down the left and had another attempt saved moments later from Jamie Brown’s through ball.

A good looking ball forward from Hughes in search of Watts hit the hand of Anthony Barness but on this occasion the referee played a good advantage allowing Scannell to run at goal before the Rooks could recover.

It was looking more and more like Eastleigh’s day when on 57 minutes the league’s leading goalscorer Paul Booth missed a sitter. With Pullen under pressure from Groves the ball rolled loose for Booth who only had to roll the ball into an empty net from six yards but unbelievably squandered a massive opportunity to claw a goal back.

This proved to be so costly on a miserable afternoon for Lewes as just three minutes later MATT HANN made it 3-0 Eastleigh. Chris Piper can take credit for an excellent run from left back, right the way up the field before neatly playing in Hann who did all the rest, beating the offside trap and providing a wonderful finish to slip past the ball past Williams.

Eastleigh, though clear favourites to win the game from this position did everything needed and more with a commendable professional attitude and fantastic workrate to ensure there was no way back for a sinking Lewes.

Anthony Riviere and Danny Smith were part of a double substitution that saw both Jamie Brown and Andy Forbes make way in the 62nd minute, to significantly strengthen the midfield leaving Watts as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.

Smith’s first involvement was to begin a move that saw Scannell’s excellent movement create a chance for Hann whose blast at goal flew comfortably over the cross bar.

After Pullen was booked for time wasting in the 65th minute, a wonderful break away from Eastleigh saw Anthony Riviere’s perfect sliding tackle lead to Chris Piper surging forward with purpose. In the 2 v 1 situation, Piper could perhaps have played the ball a second or two earlier for Scannell to run through, but the delayed pass meant Scannell was caught offside.

Our man of the match cup winning hero from the Clevedon win, could have scored five minutes later as Andy Harris played a clever ball in behind the Lewes defence, leaving Scannell in the clear.

Firing high over on this occasion, Scannell continued to trouble his counterparts leaving Ian Simpenda for dead but was unable to find the killer ball for Hann.

Into the final ten minutes, there was still no way through for Lewes. Tom Davis did his best, but failed to trouble James Pullen with a wayward shot.

David Hughes became the second player booked for time wasting when taking a free kick in an otherwise uneventful end to the game.

There was no answer from the leaders and Riviere had a late chance to make matters worse for the visitors, as Ian Baird on his first home league game for the Spitfires, masterminded a phenomenal, memorable victory.

Bring on Weston-Super Mare and Forest Green!

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3-0 Lewes



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