Six Goals Shared in Cup Classic
EASTLEIGH v FOREST GREEN ROVERS
SATURDAY 27th OCTOBER 2007
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
SATURDAY 27th OCTOBER 2007
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
A cracking cup-tie at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon, saw six goals shared between the two sides. With a place in the first round proper of the FA Cup at stake, both sides were determined to get their name in the hat for the draw.
Before the game, Eastleigh were hit with the news that both Andy Forbes and Andy Harris would miss arguably the club’s biggest ever match through injury. This meant a place in the starting line up for Anthony Riviere and a return to the side for Rob Marshall, who was named as captain. Damian Scannell operated as a striker alongside Paul Sales.
Just thirty seconds into the game, Eastleigh had a scare as Blue Square Premier leading goalscorer Stuart Fleetwood was gifted a clear opportunity. Luke Byles’ slip in front of goal saw the prolific marksman pounce on the mistake but fail to trouble Pullen from close range.
Eastleigh might have had a penalty at the other end after a mazy run from Scannell saw John Hardiker trip the man whose match winning performance in the last round, helped make today’s game possible. The referee was in close attention and saw nothing wrong with the contact.
A long ball forward from the hosts saw Forest Green centre back Chris Giles unable to direct his header. Scannell nipped in to intervene and beat the keeper to the ball, though a heavy touch forced the winger wide. Scannell kept the ball in and delivered for Paul Sales whose header went just wide of the post.
It was Forest Green who dealt the first blow as they found themselves in front on eleven minutes. Lovely interplay from Fleetwood and Mark Beesley saw the ball knocked back to the edge of the area for LEE DODGSON who found the net with a well-placed, curling effort.
Chris Piper picked up a yellow card moments later for a lunge at Alex Lawless, despite the full back making no contact with his opponent.
The Spitfires hit back instantly through a blistering goal from DAMIAN SCANNELL. Rob Marshall pumped the ball forward, and from here Damian did all the rest. Turning Mark Preece seemingly with ease, the former Fisher Athletic man showed great strength to get beyond his marker before thumping the ball past Robinson and in off the post to level the scores.
After a successful period of play from Ian Baird’s men, the Rovers strike force combination of Beesley, the link between midfield and attack - and Fleetwood, showed a great understanding to carve an opening. An intelligent pass from the latter saw the ball slipped into the feet of Beesley who was denied by the faintest of touches from the Eastleigh stopper James Pullen.
At the opposite end, a weighted pass from Paul Sales found Matt Hann on the overlap breaking forward. The winger got into the penalty area and got his shot away through the legs of Hardiker the defender, but was easy for the goalkeeper to get to who saved low down.
A minute later, with half an hour played Eastleigh fans were ecstatic to see their side take the lead. Sales again was at the heart of it as he played a wonderful ball down the right and behind the Forest Green defence. Scannell made an excellent run before knocking the ball goalwards where MATT HANN was on hand to make sure as he rammed the ball home on the goal line to give the underdogs a well deserved lead midway through the half.
Now that Eastleigh held the advantage it was doubly important to hold on to it and leading the way was skipper Rob Marshall. Throwing himself at the ball with extreme bravery, the Eastleigh captain made a crucial block to prevent Giles’ volley from getting through.
With seven minutes remaining in the first half, Eastleigh were unfortunate not to stretch their lead. David Hughes whipped in a delightful cross from the right hand side and with both Paul Sales and Jamie Brown colliding going up for the same header, Matt Hann burst on to the scene looking to pick up the pieces but could only fire his shot into the side netting.
Fleetwood was still causing one or two problems of his own and almost capitalised on an error from Karim El-Salahi just before the break. The Eastleigh centre half left the ball unaware of the presence of Fleetwood coming in behind, forcing Pullen to come to the rescue who showed superb awareness to thwart the Forest Green danger man at the edge of his box.
The visitors finished the half the better side with El-Salahi having to soak up some pressure on the stroke of half time to clear a cross from Anthony Tonkin. Pullen did exceptionally well under pressure to claim the ball from the resulting corner – but the score said it all at this half way stage.
HALF TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Forest Green
Three minutes in, the Green had the first effort as Fleetwood played the ball in to the goalscorer Dodgson whose shot from distance flew comfortably wide.
Eastleigh showed signs of their capabilities with Scannell lively once more. David Hughes played a good ball down the flank and Scannell just kept running from the halfway line to force a corner kick.
It looked as though the visitors were rattled somewhat with goalkeeper Ryan Robinson conceding a needless second corner in a matter of minutes. A throw in from Lawless saw the Forest Green stopper control the ball before coming under pressure from Scannell and letting the ball run hopelessly out of play to gift the Spitfires a corner.
Eastleigh’s pressure looked to have paid dividends as they created a glorious chance for Scannell from a splendid chipped pass from Piper. The flag stayed down, as Scannell timed his run to perfection but lacked composure in front of goal on this occasion failing to realise just how much time he had. The defender was allowed to get back and make the challenge but had ‘Damo’ made the most of this opportunity, there would have been clear daylight between the sides and Eastleigh would have been sitting comfortably with a two-goal cushion.
Jim Harvey then made a double substitution providing more attacking options with Adriano Rigoglioso and Les Afful coming into the action.
Damian Scannell hit a speculative 35 yard piledriver just seconds after missing that earlier chance and was unlucky to see his shot whistle inches over the crossbar.
Forest Green suddenly looked a lot brighter and very nearly pulled level through Mark Beesley. Intricate one touching passing led to Beesley free on the edge of the area to pull the trigger only for Pullen to make a great stop with his legs.
Question marks were raised over the goalkeepers contribution on the hour mark as he came a long way out of his goal for a throw in failing to get hold of the ball. Instead Pullen’s weak punch came out to ALEX LAWLESS who made no mistake to side foot past a host of players in a crowded penalty area and into the net.
On 65 minutes, Steve Watts was introduced as Paul Sales made way. Immediately Watts looked to make his mark on the tie as he headed narrowly over from a Hughes delivery.
At 2-2 the game was still wide open with both teams creating chances. Anthony Riviere could and probably should have restored the lead for Eastleigh with a good chance inside the box. Looking to place the ball to the keeper’s right, Riviere’s effort was saved well low down by Robinson who got a solid hand to it to beat away.
Rovers piled on the pressure and it was looking ominous that they would be the next to score. Fleetwood had a decent strike saved, before Lawless fired over. Then, with fifteen minutes remaining, MARK BEESLEY scored the goal that looked as if Eastleigh might pay for that big miss early in the second half.
A clever ball from the full back saw Beesley get to the ball ahead of Pullen, who had come a long way from his goal, to poke into an empty net and cap a fine individual display.
The Spitfires dug deep to provide a tense finish to the game. Damian Scannell made way for youngster Adam Roberts with time running down and then came the moment of glory for second half substitute STEVE WATTS.
Eastleigh worked the ball very well in the final third with Piper finding Hann with a great pass. The winger brought the ball forward and poked towards goal with Robinson only managing to parry. Steve Watts was on to it in a split second to slam home the rebound for a dramatic late equaliser and to keep the cup dream alive. Cup fever at it’s very best!
Even then, the Spitfires may well have taken the full reward. Matt Hann proved to be a real menace playing off of the last man and getting in behind more than once. In the four minutes of added on time Matt Hann was blatantly pulled back when otherwise clean through, thus the guilty centre half denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. Neither the referee or his assistant were brave enough to make the call.
Brown and Riviere combined nicely in the closing stages to tee up Piper who flicked the ball towards goal with his left foot only for the keeper to make the save bringing to an end a cracking cup tie. Both Eastleigh and Forest Green will have to do battle again on Tuesday night to fight for a home tie against Rotherham United in the next round.
FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3-3 Forest Green