Crawley Town 2-1 Eastleigh - FA Trophy
Crawley Town 2 Eastleigh 1
FA Trophy - 2nd Round Proper
FA Trophy - 2nd Round Proper
Match Report by Ray Murphy
Aspirations for Eastleigh to progress the farthest that they have ever reached in the F A Challenge Trophy, were brought to an abrupt end by Blue Square Premier Division side Crawley Town on Saturday. Crawley would be pushing for a promotion place stronger than currently shown in the league table having had a six point deduction earlier this season which has left them ground to make up but still lie in a healthy fourteenth spot.
Again the Eastleigh side were stripped through injury, Ashan Holgate returned to the side, as did Warren Goodhind and James Pullen whilst Grays Athletic had given permission for loanee Mark Marshall to play for Eastleigh in the competition. The first fifteen minutes saw Eastleigh in disarray.
The first Crawley goal arrived after only seven minutes. Paul Watson’s cross saw Pullen overstretching only to palm the ball down to allow Dannie Bulman to roll the ball back into an unguarded net.
A set piece shortly after saw Andy Harris fire a free kick wide of the target but the home side were causing Eastleigh all sorts of concern. The home sides front runners of Jamie Cook and Jon Paul Pittman teased the Eastleigh defence whilst the kicking from goalkeeper Ashley Bayes, himself a former double F A Trophy winner with Grays Athletic, saw the Eastleigh defence back pedalling to cope with the lengths of the kicks.
Pittman dispossessed Goodhind and ran on and shot across the face of goal before Crawley added the second on twelve minutes. Thomas Pinault’s through ball in behind the Eastleigh rearguard was collected by Pittman who took the ball round Pullen before netting.
The home sides advantage could have been increased on nineteen minutes. Crawley’s leading scorer Cook collected the ball slipped it past Pullen but Harris was covering and cleared the danger. Eastleigh best chance of the half fell midway through when Marshall fired an effort wide of the target inside the box when left unmarked.
Eastleigh were more into the game now and giving the hosts more to think about. The start of the second period saw Paul Watson float a free kick just wide of the target and on the hour Pittman had the ball in the back of the Eastleigh net again but the ‘effort’ was disallowed for offside.
From this point on Eastleigh gave the home side as good as they were being given and Crawley started to defend in numbers. Matt Hann’s first touch of the ball almost gave Eastleigh the lifeline they required. With sixty six minutes played Andy Forbes and Adam Everitt exchanged passes before slipping the ball through to Hann advancing into the penalty area, Hann shot low to the left of the advancing Bayes but the Crawley stopper was down to smother the shot.
Two minutes later and from defending a corner, Forbes broke out of the Eastleigh penalty area; taking a pass back from Anthony Riviere midway in his own half, Forbes then sent a pass that released Marshall. Marshall strode on covering half the length of the pitch before slipping the ball back to Chris Piper to drill home Eastleigh’s goal and give them the final quarter of the game to find an equaliser.
Crawley defender Jamie Stevens should have done better on sixty-nine minutes with a header from a Pinault free kick inside the six-yard box, which went over the bar. Five minutes later a dipping shot from Magno Vieira was just off target.
With eight minutes remaining Eastleigh had their best chance of forcing a replay. Hann’s deep cross was headed back by Forbes, Holgate saw two attempts blocked by the quickly recovering Crawley defence then the ball broke loose to Piper who fired wide.