A point closer to playoff reality but it's still tight at the top


Blue Square South

By Jamie Montigue

Great support once again

Hampton & Richmond Borough came into this game in fine form with four straight league wins to their name. The Beavers in third place and Eastleigh in fourth right behind them, this truly was a top of the table clash with so much riding on it as the race for a play off place heats up.

Karim El-Salahi

Without suspended centre half Ashley Vickers, Karim El-Salahi was recalled from relegated Sutton United and thrust straight back into a starting place to fill a defensive void. Warren McBean ended his loan spell with the Spitfires this week going in the opposite direction having scored four goals in his short stay.

Adam Everitt dropped to the bench allowing a starting place for David Hughes, the only other change from last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to league leaders Lewes saw Anthony Riviere missing through injury.

After a fairly dull opening to the game, the Spitfires took charge and looked to take the game to the visitors. The first opportunity saw excellent play from Forbes on the far touchline, beat his man before spraying a delightful pass into the middle for Peter Adeniyi to knock down. David Hughes arrived at the edge of the area but drove comfortably wide of goal.

Just prior to this, Hampton’s pacy striker Lawrence Yaku had got the better of Luke Byles with a casual nutmeg before Adeniyi could intervene with a superbly timed sliding tackle to prevent a pullback from a dangerous position to the right of goal.

In the 12th minute Paul Sales looked as though he was shoved in the back by Alan Inns, a foul which possibly merited a penalty kick. The referee allowed play to continue where Karl Murray was chopped down just outside the 18-yard box. Though very well placed, the man in black was uninterested in either shout to award Eastleigh a penalty or a free kick.

Kevin James

New signing Kevin James; who has created all three Spitfires goals in the last two games, his first two for the club, sent over a very good cross for Sales to touch on to Forbes whose half volley was well charged down by Orlando Jeffrey in the 17th minute.

A long kick from Jason Matthews picked out Andy Forbes and might have led to a goal were it not for the ball bouncing off of the Eastleigh top goalscorer’s shin for it to roll safely through to the goalkeeper Matt Lovett.

This sustained period of pressure from the hosts, one which saw the visitors camped in their own half, paid dividends when ANDY FORBES gave Ian Baird’s side a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute. Sublime wing play from Peter Adeniyi saw the former Bromley midfielder turn the full back Graham Harper inside out to get to the byline where he delivered the perfect ball for Forbes to power home an excellent header.

Pete, it seemed, had the license to roam forward and by and large he caused the Hampton and Richmond back line many problems. His assist for the opening goal was delightful and it has to be said Eastleigh taking the lead was on the cards for some time.

Paul Sales dragged a shot comfortably wide of goal soon after with his weaker left foot following a surging run from Chris Piper, when out of nothing the visitors drew level. Ten minutes before the break a throw on from the left-hand side found FRANCIS QUARM in acres of space. Taking full advantage of the slack defending, he let the ball roll across his body before picking out the bottom left hand corner with an unstoppable drive to beat the despairing dive of Matthews.

David Hughes came close to restoring Eastleigh’s lead when he played a clever one-two with Forbes only to see his shot scramble through to Lovett as the challenge came in from Orlando Jeffrey at just the right moment.

Two late chances in the half came the way of Hampton & Richmond. Elliot Godfrey’s well placed through ball found Lawrence Yaku shrug off El-Salahi to get his shot away, which was well held by Matthews.

Yaku then had a shot deflected off Luke Byles for a corner kick. Eastleigh cleared their lines really well to break and start a counter attack where Karl Murray went alone with a sprint from well inside his own half right to the opposite end of the pitch. The tireless midfielder did extremely well to get into the penalty area where he was clearly pulled back. Not for the first time in the game the referee turned a blind eye and must have been the only person inside the Silverlake Stadium to have not seen the infringement.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 1-1 Hampton & Richmond Borough

The second half saw Eastleigh dictating much of the proceedings and very unlucky not to have found a winner.

Two minutes in, skipper Andy Harris had a go from deep and wasn’t too far away with the chipped effort as Piper rolled the ball across to him.

Ian Hodges had got the wrong side of Byles in the 54th minute, as the Eastleigh defender let the ball run, unaware of the presence of Hodges lurking behind him who pounced on the loose ball but was thwarted by a good stop from Matthews.

A couple of minutes later Matthews was called into action again to deny Barrie Matthews’ drive from 25 yards that was always on the up and had to be watched right into the gloves.

Eastleigh stepped up a gear and came close to going 2-1 ahead. Peter Adeniyi made a good turn on the near side before crossing with his right foot. Andy Forbes headed the ball across goal with a back post header where the ball had to be cleared virtually off the line ahead of Paul Sales.

Another good ball from Adeniyi, from the left this time, was helped on by Sales for Forbes who shot narrowly wide of the post.

The Spitfires were very unlucky not to have the advantage at this point as their play merited. The attacks kept coming and Chris Piper was the next to be denied, at point blank range by Lovett who made a vital block at the feet of the on-charging Eastleigh player.

Chris Piper

Karim El-Salahi headed a Kevin James corner towards goal in the 70th minute but had his effort stopped by the man on the far post.

A rare chance for the visitors saw the flag stay down against Yaku who had broken away. The ball eventually came out to Graham Harper on the right hand side, whose cross-cum-shot was heading for the top corner that had Matthews back-pedalling. The former Weymouth stopper and new Eastleigh number one wasn’t about to be caught out by the attempt and calmly tipped over the bar.

The final ten minutes was about one side and one side only. It was all Eastleigh with Alan Devonshire’s troops firmly on the back foot.

Second half substitute Steve Watts who came on for Paul Sales, couldn’t quite turn the ball goalwards from Fitzroy Simpson’s free kick that Byles had flicked on perfectly.

Eight minutes from time Kevin James made way for Matt Hann. The former St. Albans winger’s first involvement saw Hann’s cross get a crucial touch from a Hampton & Richmond defender to take the ball away from Forbes who was poised to head home an otherwise certain winner.

The Beavers looked to have thrown away the points when a clumsy and reckless piece of defending from Ryan Lake on Karim El-Salahi seemed to have gifted Eastleigh a priceless penalty kick. The referee was not interested and both sides had to settle for a point.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-1 Hampton & Richmond Borough


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