Eastleigh make it 2 wins out of 2 against Town to end Iron's winning streak


Blue Square South

Blue Square South manager of the month for November, Lee Paterson’s Braintree Town came to the Silverlake Stadium in excellent form with a run of five straight victories behind them but could not continue in the same vein against a resilient Eastleigh side.

Back into the squad for today’s game following last weekend’s 4-2 win over Weston-Super-Mare in the FA Trophy, came Andy Harris who was back from injury and skippered at right back. Fitzroy Simpson the star performer in that game, maintained his place in the starting eleven this time though at left back to replace the suspended Adam Everitt.

Warren Goodhind recovered from an ankle injury and came in for his home debut alongside Luke Byles in the centre of defence. New signing, striker Ashan Holgate who will turn 20 in ten days time was drafted in for his full debut having completed his move from Weston-Super-Mare and passing a medical this week. Matt Hann and Danny Smith were amongst the substitutes.

Inside sixty seconds Damian Scannell came close to making the most and capitalising on a James Hawes slip in front of goal. Scannell intervened, skipped through the remaining defenders before planting his effort inches wide of the upright.

A lively opening from either side in a game that both sides were going all out for the win, then saw a Russell Edwards header from Louis Riddle’s corner fail to trouble the young goalkeeper, Ross Kitteridge.

Eastleigh meanwhile, were rewarded a free kick following a foul by Lee Burns on Chris Piper and Fitzroy Simpson’s free kick had to be headed behind to evade the danger. From the corner, Luke Byles climbed well with Nicky Morgan in the Braintree goal, but it was the Iron’s stopper who claimed extremely confidently under pressure.

The game open in its early stages, flowing freely from end to end, saw Braintree take an eighth minute lead through LEON ARCHER. The goal came from an excellent break down the left-hand side from Louis Riddle that saw Archer continue the attack with a shot against the cross bar. As the ball bounced back out the former St. Albans City forward was quickest to react as he followed in his own shot to head the ball into an empty net.

Eastleigh’s response was to come straight back at the visitors and find the equaliser. Ashan Holgate did well to keep the ball in the corner before drawing the foul and winning a free kick. Piper’s teasing ball into the box needed to be dealt with but the best Braintree could manage was to concede a corner kick.

Just three minutes after going a goal down, the hosts drew level through LUKE BYLES who pounced in the penalty area to equalise from a corner kick to net his first ever goal for Eastleigh.

The Spitfires took full advantage from this point on and enjoyed much of the possession, threatening in the final third on several occasions. Scannell proved to be a menace as always, down the right hand side and was involved in three separate attacks in a matter of minutes.

Finding space in abundance to run at the Braintree defenders, Scannell created a chance firstly for Holgate who was unmarked to the left of goal. The debutant curled his shot towards goal but found Billy Burgess in his way to thwart his attempt.

Scannell again did well on the far side with his trickery to cut in and feed the ball to Andy Forbes on the edge of the penalty area. Forbes played the ball back to Jamie Brown whose dipping effort produced an awkward bounce in front of goal that Morgan was equal to.

Chris Piper came closest to doubling the advantage from a terrific delivery from Scannell to the far post. The header was very unlucky to have only found the side netting with Town opened up once more at the back and fortunate to escape.

After dominating the majority of the opening twenty minutes, Eastleigh were finally given something to think about for themselves as the goalscorer Leon Archer screwed a half-volley comfortably wide of goal.

In the 31st minute Andy Forbes won a free kick 25 yards from goal in a central position, having been pushed unfairly by Edwards. Chris Piper went for goal but his strike was too close to the goalkeeper to cause any trouble.

At the opposite end, Luke Byles who had a commanding game throughout at the heart of defence alongside the equally composed and experienced defending of Warren Goodhind, swept up heroically to deal with a ball that had deceived Kitteridge and so nearly rolled through to the unmarked Lee Burns.

With ten minutes of the half remaining, Archer felt he should have been awarded a penalty kick after tumbling in the penalty area with Andy Harris in close attention. Louis Riddle was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon as he let out his frustrations that the decision failed to go their way, with a rash tackle on Goodhind.

Holgate then showed immense skill to beat his man on the far side getting to the byline and floating a cross to the back post where Andy Forbes looked to help the ball goalwards before the Iron eventually cleared their lines.

On the stroke of half time ANTHONY RIVIERE gave the hosts a thoroughly deserved 2-1 lead going into the break. The goal came from Piper’s ball in that was helped on by Scannell for the former Fisher Athletic midfielder to slam home from the edge of the area.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Braintree Town

Braintree had an early free kick and corner but neither materialised into any real threat allowing Eastleigh to keep their slender lead which almost increased when Ashan Holgate came within a whisker of introducing himself to the Eastleigh faithful with a goal two minutes into the second half.

Forbes broke down the left and picked out his strike partner, who waited for the ball to drop before hitting a fine half volley with his left foot only to be denied by a splendid save from Morgan, who tipped around the post.

It was at this point that the game became a little scrappy with the ball in the air more often than not meaning precious little football was seen on the deck.

Anthony Riviere was penalised for a foul that was in fact committed by Byles before a moment of stupidity flared a few touchline tempers. Mark Jones threw the ball deliberately at the face of Holgate stood directly in front of the thrower but what Jones did was uncalled for and unnecessary – so much so it sparked the anger of Ian Baird who was close-by and did not like what he saw.

On the hour mark Jamie Brown looked as if he might be struggling with an injury as he writhed in pain before hobbling off the pitch temporarily. David Hughes was preparing to come on but Brown, who wears his heart on his skin, was able to continue and see out the rest of the game.

Eastleigh then had a near miss following neat football between Piper and Holgate.

Matt Hann replaced Fitzroy Simpson twenty minutes from time, which led to Chris Piper switching to left back.

Andy Forbes, who had brought the ball a long way with a good run almost found Brown in the middle with a chipped cross to the far post.

The Spitfires, looking to see out the game introduced Hughes for Holgate, who can be pleased with his contribution on his debut.

Braintree upped their tempo in search of a late equaliser and there really could not have been a better opportunity for the visitors take a share of the spoils than the chance that fell the way of a rather embarrassed Chris Sullivan.

A Michael Shinn piledriver from range crashed against the post, brushed against Kitteridge to roll across the face of goal for what really should have been a simple tap in to the unmarked Braintree man running in on goal.

The ground erupted with laughter from the Eastleigh support as Sullivan unbelievably, turned the ball around the post from just a yard out. It was the biggest miss I have ever seen and with it went the hope of a point for Braintree. A let off for the Spitfires, yes, but I think we played well enough to deserve that little bit of luck and were well worth the three points.

This of course meant Eastleigh had secured a double over their visitors this season having already won 2-0 back in August away from home proving yet further that we are looking a difficult side to beat at present.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Braintree Town



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