Eastleigh score Bognor double


Blue Square South

By Jamie Montigue
On this August bank holiday Monday, the Spitfires came up against Mick Jenkins' Bognor Regis Town.

Prior to the main event, the supporters of either side did battle on the astro turf behind the pitch and it was Eastleigh who came out on top in a thrilling encounter, winning by 7 goals to 6.

This proved to be a good omen for Ian Baird's Eastleigh.

One man who is definitely no stranger to the Silverlake Stadium is Danny Smith who returned to face his former club, in the light blue of Bognor. The former Winchester FA Vase winning skipper and the midfielder who captained the Spitfires to successive promotions in recent years made a welcome return. Even after leaving the club as a player, Danny is still heavily involved in the thriving Football in the Community department with Eastleigh.

Following the off-colour 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bromley on Saturday, a result that saw a previously 100 per cent record tarnished in a bad day at the office, the Spitfires were out to set the record straight and prove it was just a blip.

Eastleigh also lost key players to injury in the weekend defeat including losing skipper Andy Harris, and new loanee Matt Bodkin.

Aaron Martin was handed his first league start in the Blue Square South, the young defender slotting in at right back adding extra height to the back four.

In the second minute of the game, Eastleigh won a free kick around 30-yards from goal as Scott Bolderson was penalised for a hand ball. Tony Taggart blasted the ball towards goal with an extremely good effort, that needed an important touch from the goalkeeper James Lester, to keep it out.

A minute later, Eastleigh could and probably should have taken the lead as Jamie Brown missed an excellent chance with a free header at the back post from a Taggart corner but got it all wrong.

Still in the opening five minutes, Eastleigh were taking the game to Bognor and setting the pace as they forced another corner kick with Peter Adeniyi's speculative effort from range forcing a corner as Lester punched over the cross bar.

The Rocks were still feeling the intense early pressure and it took a top drawer save to deny Tom Jordan his first goal for the club with a brilliant header that looked destined for goal.

A goal was just around the corner as Eastleigh eventually made their dominance pay dividends, breaking the deadlock in the fourteenth minute. JAMES BAKER pounced on a loose ball inside the Bognor penalty area and took full advantage planting a splendid half volley across goal and into the far corner. A beautiful strike with his weaker left foot to open the scoring in style.

It wasn't until the seventeenth minute of the game that the visitors really tested Jason Matthews. Bognor's first effort on goal coming courtesy of a Paul Watson free kick that was hit straight down the middle but bounced awkwardly in front of the Eastleigh stopper, who read it well to make a decent stop.

Tony Taggart forced a save out of Lester as he cut in from the left before pulling the trigger with his right, only to be denied at the near post.

Taggart came close from another free kick midway through the half, but his low drive provided little test for the keeper.

A neat interchange between Anthony Riviere and Taggart on 34 minutes, saw the latter make a good run in behind the defence, though his shot was straight at Lester.

The final action of the half saw Aaron Martin come so close to a headed goal. Rising at the far post and getting an excellent header on target, Martin's effort had the keeper beaten but was thwarted by a well placed defender on the goal line who made a great clearance to save a certain goal.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 1-0 Bognor Regis

Eastleigh began to lose their grip slightly with a couple of mistimed challenges, firstly from Aaron Martin, who was booked, and more costly from Luke Byles who was otherwise in commanding form at the heart of the defence winning so many headers alongside Tom Jordan but gave away a free kick in a dangerous position nine minutes into the half.

Mick Jenkins' side made the Spitfires pay for this one, as PAUL WATSON went directly for goal from the centrally placed set piece, 30 or so yards from goal, and found the net and the equaliser with a fine strike curling the ball left-footed beyond the outstretched arms of Matthews.

There appeared to be a few disagreements between a couple of players in the Eastleigh defence, as, with the scores now level, the visitors had a chance to go one better.

A cross by Paul Hinshelwood found Joe Gatting in the middle whose looping header flew narrowly over goal.

It was just two minutes later that Eastleigh hit back with a quick reply to restore the lead. James Baker held the ball up perfectly before playing the killer ball to the edge of the area with the lay off to find TONY TAGGART. The former Havant & Waterlooville cup hero needed no second invitation to have a go at goal, which is exactly what he did thumping the ball with venom into the top corner.

Luke Byles ran into trouble soon after the goal, taking the ball across his own goalmouth with perhaps one too many touches. The defender fortunate in escaping with just a throw in to Bognor and nothing more.

Play-maker Taggart found Baker to his right with 70 minutes on the clock, and the scorer of Eastleigh's first goal hit it well first time and was unlucky not to have hit the target.

David Hughes was back in first team action for the first time this season as he replaced Jamie Brown with eighteen minutes remaining.

Bognor's number 9, Joe Gatting produced a splendid save out of Matthews in the 75th minute with a good turn and spin on the edge of the area to get the better of Tom Jordan, before shooting and being denied by an even better stop.

Referee Justin Amey of Bournemouth gave Rocks' goalkeeper James Lester his marching orders for a tussle with Matt Groves that led to violent conduct on the Eastleigh striker. Lester looked to have wrestled the former Dorchester and Lewes forward to the ground with excess force leaving the referee no choice but to display the red card.

The visitors now down to ten men, matters were made worse by the fact that they didn't have a recognised goalkeeper on the bench. This led to outfield player Sam Pearce taking the gloves and seeing out the rest of the game between the sticks.

Bognor certainly rallied and were playing with good spirit during the last ten minutes, so much so it was hard to tell at times which team were a man down.

Jason Matthews had to be on his guard to produce another good save to deny Paul Watson from a free kick, tipping the ball around the post.

Eastleigh did enough in the end to secure the three points and put the blip of the Bromley defeat behind them.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Bognor Regis


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