Goalless in the cold

EASTLEIGH v THURROCK



TUESDAY 11th DECEMBER 2007
Blue Square South

A gesture of goodwill from the Eastleigh board of Directors saw a bumper crowd of 958 make the most of the free entry on this 'taster day' at the Silverlake Stadium, but in the extremely cold temperatures neither side could find a goal despite end to end entertainment.

6ft 4” midfielder Peter Adeniyi, Eastleigh’s latest signing coming from Bromley came straight in for his debut and put in a solid performance. Luke Byles returned from suspension having missed the 2-1 away win over Bromley at the weekend, to come in for defender Karim El-Salahi, whilst Ashan Holgate dropped to the bench.

Eastleigh had two half-chances very early on but it was the visitors Thurrock who had made the brighter start, coming extremely close twice inside the opening six minutes.

With less than a minute played, Jamie Brown, playing as a striker alongside Andy Forbes in attack, helped on a long free kick from Ross Kitteridge to find his strike partner Forbes, who blazed his volley high over the cross bar.

After Anthony Riviere’s fine match-winning strike on Saturday, the energetic midfielder had an early opportunity to try something similar once more, but scooped his effort a long way off target.

Thurrock quickly came to life in the form of Bai Mas Lettejallow who let fly on the half volley having linked up well with Lee Flynn, the captain. Lettejallow’s excellent attempt struck the frame of the goal, rattling against the cross bar.

Moment’s later Kitteridge had to turn a shot around the post before Adeniyi headed behind to concede a corner kick. Thurrock applying the early pressure.

David Bryant had the ball in the back of the net on six minutes when he turned the ball home from a scramble inside the Eastleigh penalty area, but as he wheeled away in celebration the ‘goal’ was pulled back for offside.

A few nerves started to kick in for the Spitfires particularly at the back, with a few balls going astray. Following a back pass from Warren Goodhind, the young goalkeeper Kitteridge presented a chance to the opposition with a poor kick to give away possession right in front of his own goal.

Thankfully, Eastleigh eventually got going with Scannell pressurising Paine into conceding a corner.

Anthony Riviere then won a free kick with a great turn to draw the foul from Bryant. Adam Everitt’s best effort from the set piece was to power a strike straight into the wall.

Down the right hand side, looked to be an area the hosts were causing the most threat with Paine making a hash of dealing with Jamie Brown’s low cross to the front post. The centre back sliced the ball backwards towards his own goal before David Blackmore could avert the danger.

The next chance for either side did not come until the 27th minute after a dull spell. Damian Scannell’s cross saw a mix up between that man Paine, once more, and goalkeeper Blackmore. The pair collided allowing the ball to bobble loose to Chris Piper who couldn’t take advantage of the situation with a weak header.

It looked as though Craig Hughes’ chipped pass down the middle for Bryant might have led to a strike on goal, seven minutes later as the Eastleigh defence were split open, though the Thurrock man was unable to shake off the attentions of Goodhind, who had made a timely intervention.

Eastleigh broke extremely quickly with Chris Piper striding forwards a good 40-yards before picking out the equally impressive, surging run of Riviere. Thurrock got men behind the ball promptly just when they were looking stretched and outnumbered at the back, and were eventually able to recover and intercept Riviere’s pass in search of Forbes.

In the blink of an eye, the ball was back down the opposite end of the pitch with Bryant’s glancing header falling wide of the upright from Matt Bodkin’s delivery.

Five minutes before the break, the tempo as quick as it had been throughout the first half, Scannell played the ball back to Riviere from Andy Harris’ short throw in. The goalscoring winner from Eastleigh’s two previous games (Braintree Town and Bromley), struck the ball well from range as it came out to him and the former Fisher Athletic midfielder was denied only by the brave defending of Rob Swaine who had stood tall charging the effort down.

Riviere was at the heart of the next Eastleigh move also, with a clever pass into Forbes, chipping the ball over the head of his opponent to find the Spitfires’ top goalscorer. With his back to goal and around 8 yards out, Forbes might on another occasion have turned to test the keeper but instead looked to knock the ball back out to the edge of the area and in doing so, lost possession.

The final chance of an end-to end first forty-five saw Thurrock cut through the Eastleigh defence with Bryant squaring to his right to present Hughes a glorious opportunity of taking the lead. Kitteridge came out well and to his credit did enough to narrow the angle and force the shot wide.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Thurrock

Hakan Ramis-Hayrettin’s men came out just as enthusiastically at the opening of the second half.

Andy Harris went from hero, following a header off the goalline to deny an otherwise certain goal from Swaine’s header, to supposed villain for a strong, sliding challenge that forced Fola Orilonishe from playing any further part. At first sight it looked as if the Eastleigh captain had played the ball, but the referee having consulted with his assistant deemed the tackle worthy of a yellow card.

It took Eastleigh ten minutes before they mounted any real pressure towards Blackmore’s goal, but when they did it was pleasing to the eye. Piper’s trademark run down the middle of the park with pace, saw Adeniyi flick the ball on smartly with a back heel where Piper continued once more spraying the ball out to Brown on the far side. Brown’s cross was cut out but from the throw in, Adeniyi, the Eastleigh debutant continued his fine display having two half volley’s blocked that were heading for goal.

Ashan Holgate was introduced close to the hour mark as Eastleigh went in search of some fresh impetus in attack. Andy Forbes, who had been kept unusually quiet by the Thurrock defence, was the man to make way.

The Spitfires most clear-cut; gilt-edged opportunity arose on 67 minutes following excellent work from Scannell. Kitteridge had been in action moments earlier to punch a Matt Bodkin cross behind for a corner, when Eastleigh were able to make a swift counter-attack.

Damian Scannell picked the ball up on the half way line and with no one else in sight but Lettejallow, the tricky winger made beating the Thurrock defender look easy as he held the ball up before playing an excellent threaded pass to pick out Piper’s great run. Having done all the hard work in the build up, Eastleigh found themselves clean through on goal with Piper in behind the last man with just David Blackmore, the goalkeeper, to beat. Piper should have done a lot better and at least hit the target but got it all wrong, screwing the ball wide with his left foot.

Three minutes later, with space opening up in the midfield, Scannell needed no further invitation and went alone having the legs on Flynn to leave him standing, before curling a wonderful effort from 30 yards against the foot of the post.

A third near miss in a matter five minutes saw Andy Harris hit a sweet free kick with his right foot, that had Blackmore in all kinds of trouble sprawling to his left. The shot from the Eastleigh skipper was too hot to handle and the best the Thurrock stopper could manage was to spoon the ball around the post.

Just when the momentum was in Eastleigh’s favour, the floodlights failed causing a lengthy delay whilst the problem was rectified. This did not help matters, as Eastleigh had to regroup, this also gave the visitors some breathing space at a time when they looked most vulnerable to conceding.

Rest assured, the new floodlights should be up and fully operational it is hoped, in time for our FA Trophy 1st Round match with Bognor Regis Town on Saturday.

Before the lights went out, Matt Hann had replaced Piper in midfield. Immediately, the former St. Albans winger looked lively winning a corner and setting up a chance for fellow substitute Holgate who was denied from the edge of the area by a challenge from Matt Bodkin.

Not for the first time in the game, Adeniyi hit a measured half volley that was heading right for the top corner. That was until Rob Swaine, once more stood his ground to bravely deny the new Spitfires signing a goal on his debut.

The encounter on this freezing, winter’s evening coming to a close, saw Thurrock step up their charge for a late winner. Warren Goodhind’s uncharacteristic error in badly slicing a clearance became an invite to Che Stadhart who pounced on the loose ball. Fortunately for Eastleigh, Kitteridge raced to the edge of his area to make it difficult, before Goodhind could get back and sweep the ball away to atone for his mistake that could have been so costly, so late in the game.

There was just time for one last effort as Adeniyi got the ball onto his left foot cutting in from the right on the edge of the penalty area but his floated shot flew narrowly wide.

0-0 it stayed, but despite the scoreline, the football on display was a good advert for football at this level. Hopefully, those that perhaps made their first visit to the Silverlake Stadium tonight will be back in future as we look to continue strongly and push for a playoff finish.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Thurrock

JAMIE MONTIGUE



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