Eastleigh edge FA Trophy encounter to make club history - again!


FA Carlsberg Trophy - 1st Round Proper

By Jamie Montigue
In the bitterly cold temperatures in this FA Carlsberg Trophy 1st Round cup-tie, it was Eastleigh who progressed against the Rocks in front of just 318 who had braved the winter weather.

There were four changes to the side who drew with Thurrock on Tuesday night. Gareth Howells replaced Ross Kitteridge in goal for his home debut. Ashan Holgate and Matt Hann both came into the starting line up to replace the injured Damian Scannell who it is thought could be out until the new year with a knee injury and Chris Piper who was out with flu. Karim El-Salahi meanwhile came into the centre of defence for Luke Byles, who only made the substitutes bench.

Before kick off the brand new, state of the art floodlights were unveiled for the first time and proved to be magnificent, a massive improvement and a great deal brighter than those that failed in the previous game, which had been standing for 30 years.

The Spitfires, in their last home game before Christmas continued their unbeaten run of late with a second consecutive clean sheet, though there was little to cheer about for either side in a bleak first half.

Adam Everitt almost caught Craig Stoner off guard in the opening stages with a clearance from the half way line that drifted towards goal at the last second. The goalkeeper back-pedalling, was relieved to watch it over the cross bar.

Scott Harris headed behind a long throw from Andy Harris to concede a corner on 7 minutes before Chris Breach headed over his own cross bar from Adam Everitt’s delivery.

Ian Baird’s men came close at times with Ashan Holgate firing wide of the post moments later with a good run and shot cutting in from the left having attacked the defender only for his effort to fall narrowly wide of the target.

Eastleigh kept up the tempo with Matt Hann’s positive diagonal run in approach leading to Peter Adeniyi picking out Andy Forbes in the penalty area. Forbes let the ball get away from him but was then dragged to the ground - referee Ian Crouch wasn’t interested and turned down the penalty shout.

Wonderful play from the hosts saw just how deadly Eastleigh can be when they keep the ball on the floor. Turning defence into attack with patient passing initially from Andy Harris and Karim El-Salahi who then turned back to find Howells. The move continued to develop with Adam Everitt before a fine one-two combination between Forbes and Anthony Riviere saw the latter curl his attempt comfortably wide.

The game suddenly seemed to lag and become a little dreary following a promising start from Eastleigh, who unfortunately were unable to maintain their pressure consistently.

Andy Forbes had a half chance midway through the half from a long ball but his weak shot with his left foot failed to trouble Stoner.

Bognor’s first strike on goal did not come until ten minutes before the break with Dan Beck picking up on the loose ball only to fire straight at Howells from the edge of the area.

The visitors clearly ended the first forty-five on the up, their next attack seeing Beck turn provider for Luke Nightingale with a beautiful chip forward to find the captain in behind the Eastleigh defence. Howells raced out to meet the striker in the one-on-one situation and stood tall to make an excellent save, though a late offside flag would have saved the Spitfires should Nightingale have found the back of the net.

Michael Birmingham’s men having dug deep to hold on in the first quarter of an hour to twenty minutes, will feel aggrieved to have not broken the deadlock in the very closing stages of the first half. A slip in the Eastleigh penalty area from Karim El-Salahi, led to a scramble on the stroke of half time that then left Howells exposed from 6 yards. Bognor somehow failed to find a way through to take the advantage.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Bognor

A minute into the second half, Andy Forbes’ astute flick around the corner found Matt Hann on the left who then crossed to find Ashan Holgate in the middle. Craig Stoner, being called into action immediately, dropped the header at first from the former Weston-Super-Mare striker before the danger could be cleared.

Richard Chamberlain’s testing free kick had to be dealt with well and was from Jamie Brown’s saving header before Holgate at the opposite end came close once more. Flicking the ball up and over his marker’s head, Ashan showing great technique initially before lacking that little bit of composure having done the hard work, blazing over the top.

On 54 minutes, Matt Hann had a glorious opportunity from a pull back on the right hand side. Craig Stoner did well to stay big and make a good save, but it will have to go down as a big miss unmarked, and just 8 yards out.

Howells had to deal with a header from Nightingale before saving a free kick from Chamberlain a moment later.

Just over an hour gone, Eastleigh striker Ashan Holgate, still looking for his first goal, pulled the trigger from the edge of the area with a firm, crisp strike though Stoner was there to deny a goal once more clawing the ball off the line.

Forbes then had a shot saved at the near post, having linked up with Holgate.

Eastleigh opted for three in attack at this stage with Matt Hann operating as the third striker to try and push further for a goal.

The hosts were getting closer to finding that breakthrough. Forbes the next in line to come close following an excellent pass behind the defence from Hann. Having rounded the keeper a trailing leg caught the Spitfires’ top goalscorer but staying on his feet – nothing was given. Riviere following in picked out Brown with the cross, only for the versatile tireless midfielder to have his header turned behind for a corner kick.

ANDY FORBES got the eventual winner with a glancing header eighteen minutes from time, meeting Anthony Riviere’s inch perfect cross from the right to guide past the outstretched arms of Craig Stoner and into the net.

Excellent defending from El-Salahi, Goodhind and co were enough to shake off late attacks from Bognor and Nightingale. Before Birmingham was livid to have what he claimed to be a penalty, rebuffed.

Matt Hann might have made it comfortable from Everitt’s long throw and Forbes’ lay off but dragged his shot a good couple of yards wide.

Bognor’s best chance of finding a late equaliser saw Luke Nightingale’s hopeful chip on the angle turned on to the goal post by a splendid fingertip save from Gareth Howells. The Eastleigh goalkeeper on his home debut ensuring his side had done enough to make club, cup history in the competition in achieving a place in the second round, the last 32 of the competition.

It may not have been the best of games in general, but the win and the clean sheet was what mattered on the day as we face the possibility of drawing another big name in the next round.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Bognor


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