Six goals shared in exciting friendly with Saints


Pre-Season Friendly

By Jamie Montigue

Southampton brought a youthful side to the Silverlake Stadium on this fine afternoon, mainly due to the more senior squad members taking part in Claus Lundekvam's testimonial match against Celtic the night before.

Euro 2008 Polish striker, Marek Saganowski, and contract rebel, Nathan Dyer were the two most recognised names in the starting eleven for the Championship visitors; not that this in anyway was detrimental to the football on display.

The Spitfires could not have wished for a better start, taking the lead after a staggering nineteen seconds. The ball was worked over to the far side for Tony Taggart, who got the ball on to his left foot before picking out the perfect cross for JAMES BAKER to nod past the motionless Andrej Pernecky.

Jan Poortvliet and Mark Wotte's Saints in their 4-2-1-2-1 formation, did look dangerous at times with their one touch passing and attacking play, but for the most part Eastleigh held their own.

Dyer squeezed past Bird in the fourth minute only to be denied by a brave stop from Jason Matthews at his near post.

The Eastleigh number one produced an even better save on 11 minutes, after Jamie White picked up on Ashley Vickers' heavy touch to set Matthew Paterson to his right. The young Scottish striker pulled the trigger with a well-placed side foot effort but Matthews was more than equal to the attempt, tipping the ball around the post.

Just past the opening quarter of an hour, the game was still very open and entertaining with action at either end.

A quickly taken Tony Taggart free kick from deep, was played through into space behind the defence where Joseph Mills was struggling to hold off Baker, unfortunately for Eastleigh the ball bobbled through to Pernecky.

Back at the opposite end, Jamie White came close with a snapshot before Paterson's excellent running off the ball helped him to find space where he was then picked out by a pass from Dyer just a minute later. Paterson's attempted cross clipped the frame of the goal though Matthews between the sticks, was adjudged to have turned the ball on to the outside of the post to concede a corner.

Twenty minutes in, a free kick from Challis on the left hand side saw Vickers rise well to meet the delivery only to glance his header wide, one which was never in danger of testing Pernecky.

Six minutes later, Andy Harris caused a problem or two with a long throw that evaded several players inside a crowded penalty area with Southampton fortunate to have escaped without the ball being flicked goal-wards, as Pernecky gathered the loose ball.

Eastleigh deservedly doubled their lead in the 31st minute. Taggart was involved once more as his lofted ball into the box was not dealt with by the Southampton defence allowing Tom Bird to poke the ball through to ANTHONY RIVIERE who slammed the ball home making no mistake from close range.

At this stage the Spitfires were looking very comfortable having rarely needed to get out of second gear, though the Saints were by no means finished yet as their best was yet to come.

Sure enough, NATHAN DYER pulled a goal back six minutes before the break with a cool finish as he broke down the left, cutting in from the flank and into the penalty area planting the ball beyond the reach of Matthews and into the corner of goal.

Dyer might have levelled things up just before half time as he was presented with a glorious opportunity. Saganowski brought the ball forward through the middle of the park to feed it through for White to his left. The ball broke free falling kindly for Dyer who could and probably should have had his second of the afternoon but only managed to fire wide with his left foot.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Southampton

At the beginning of the second half, Neil Davies came on for Trevor Challis and sat in front of the back four with Luke Byles dropping into left back. Similarly, Southampton made a couple of changes with Callum McNish and Kayne McLaggon coming on to replace Marek Saganowski and Tom Dunford.

The Saints made a very bright start to the half and seemed to have upped their game and tempo somewhat from their first half display.

A minute in, a sublime exchange between Paterson and McLaggon saw the return ball fall for Paterson who hit it early only to be thwarted by Luke Byles, who threw himself in front of the shot for a vital block to save an otherwise certain goal.

Taggart tumbled under a challenge from McNish to win a free kick shortly after, though Andy Harris blasted high over the cross bar from the resulting set piece.

On 55 minutes, Saints worked an opening right from the very back. Pernecky played the ball short to Thomson who drove the ball down the touchline into the feet of White, who in turn flicked the ball exquisitely into the path of McLaggon. The young Welsh forward beat the offside trap and a short sprint found him with just Matthews to beat, but in the one on one situation, McLaggon could find the side netting only.

Aaron Milburn replaced James Baker in the Eastleigh attack two minutes short of the hour.

Saints were perhaps unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty kick a minute later as Neil Davies got away with tugging Jamie White's shirt inside the penalty area.

Further changes by Ian Baird saw two-time Blue Square South Golden Boot winner and scorer of 85 league and cup goals in three seasons at former club Havant and Waterlooville, turn out in Eastleigh colours for the first time as he came on for Matt Groves. Chris Mason also replaced Tom Bird in the double substitution.

Jake Thomson, who had taken the captain's arm band at the break, excelled himself for the visitors and in the 63rd minute the 19-year-old set up the equalising goal from his superb, surging run out of defence. JAMIE WHITE controlled Thomson's pass on the edge of the area before swivelling and chipping the ball over the head of the helpless Matthews and into the net with a beautiful finish for 2-2.

Saints were beginning to create a lot of chances and were all of a sudden starting to overwhelm Eastleigh.

In the 69th minute, MATTHEW PATERSON grabbed the Saints' third goal to overturn a two goal deficit. It was extremely well worked with McLaggon and White creating the chance with a smart one-two to provide a simple chance for Paterson to stab home.

Eastleigh made a further three changes towards the end of the game with Ashley Vickers making way for Aaron Martin, Adam Shepherd replacing Luke Byles and ten minutes from time Jack Sealy came on for Tony Taggart.

Riviere fired a half chance over the cross bar for Eastleigh whilst Paterson couldn't get his header on target from a McLaggon centre at the opposite end.

The game ended on a high note for the Spitfires as an embarrassing blunder from goalkeeper Pernecky, and American centre back Kyle Davies gifted CHRIS MASON with an 87th minute equaliser.

All game Southampton had been playing the ball short to defenders and it really was a matter of time before Eastleigh could make something of it. Jack Sealy closed down well in front of goal and it was a combination of his pressure and the misunderstanding between goalkeeper and defender that the ball fell for Mason to slam home only his second senior goal for the club to bring this exciting pre-season friendly match to a close.

Our thanks to Southampton Football Club for turning out and to all of the supporters who I am sure will have been impressed with the afternoon's entertainment.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3–3 Southampton


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