Rivs' dramatic winner keeps home run going


Blue Square South

By Jamie Montigue

Eastleigh kept their 100 per cent record in tact thanks to a stoppage time winner from man of the match Anthony Riviere.

The win did not look on the cards after a poor first half, though Ian Baird's men pulled through in a thoroughly entertaining finale to the game.

Matt Bodkin made his home debut for Eastleigh having come back from an ankle injury sustained on his full debut against Bromley last month. James Baker was up against his former team, as was Chris Piper who played his first game back at the Silverlake Stadium since his summer move to Braintree Town.

The first chance on goal came Eastleigh's way when Bodkin cut back on to his right foot from the left flank before sending over a telling cross into the middle. James Baker so nearly got one over his former club as early as the sixth minute but was denied by a stunning one-handed save from Craig Holloway to keep out the glancing header as he connected with the loanee's delivery to force an early save.

A piece of sloppy defending from the hosts saw Lee Patterson's side very nearly take the lead two minutes later. The ball came loose inside the penalty area from Michael Shinn's free kick, falling for a completely unmarked Wayne O'Sullivan at the near post. The Braintree midfielder tried to dink the ball over the advancing keeper Jason Matthews, who got a vital touch with his trailing leg to keep the effort out.

The visitors did however, take the lead in the ninth minute through SEAN MARKS. O'Sullivan slipped the ball neatly through the defence for Marks to squeeze a shot past Matthews which took a slight deflection before going in off the cross bar.

During the remainder of the first half, neither side showed enough quality about them and as a result the game became somewhat dry and stale.

Bar a Braintree free kick from Shinn, which Matthews did very well to save low down from the strike that was curled around a five man wall, there was very little by way of goal mouth action to talk about for some time.

Unfortunately the game wasn't really allowed to flow due to petty fouls being picked up on by the referee, which did not help matters.

Bodkin and Tony Taggart swapped wings towards the end of the half to try and inject some much needed fresh impetus, but this did not really come off.

On the stroke of half time, David Hughes, who had put himself about well with a battling performance in his first start at the Silverlake Stadium this season, played a fine ball over the top in search of Anthony Riviere's run into the penalty area. He found it with precision, though Riviere couldn't quite poke the ball past the keeper.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-1 Braintree Town

Braintree had two early chances in the half, firstly with O'Sullivan's low cross from the left finding the goalscorer Marks in the middle on 51 minutes. Marks turned well but scooped his shot high over the cross bar from close range.

Soon after, Iron's skipper Bradley Quinton played a great ball down the line for Lee Burns. Going for goal with a chipped effort to the right of the penalty area, Burns had to be denied by Matthews who came to Eastleigh's aid rushing out to the edge of his box and making a good block.

On the hour, Matt Groves replaced David Hughes with Eastleigh adopting a 4-4-2 now instead of operating with the lone striker of Baker.

Three minutes after his introduction, Groves' swivel shot from an Andy Harris header down into his path was comfortably dealt with by Holloway. Tony Taggart's cross from the right caused the problems initially with the visitors unable to clear their lines.

At the opposite end, Burns left Jordan in his shadow to find himself one on one with Matthews, but his weak side-footed shot from the edge of the area didn't pose any threat.

The Spitfires up to this point had not really created a clear cut chance since that early opportunity fell to Baker in the 6th minute, but the game took a sudden twist midway through the second half.

Braintree's Billy Burgess handled on the line to deny Bodkin his first goal for the club, and the full back was promptly given his marching orders with the Spitfires being awarded a penalty kick as well as the added bonus of now only facing ten men.

Peter Adeniyi stepped up far too casually and fired straight down the middle at the keeper. Town survived the scare as Adeniyi got his feet mixed up for the rebound before Matt Groves picked up on the loose ball only to blaze over the cross bar.

Somehow Braintree had survived, or rather Eastleigh had squandered a glorious opportunity to get themselves back on level terms.

Adeniyi was then brought down just outside the box but Andy Harris' free kick was a long way off from testing the keeper, flying high and wide of goal.

Eastleigh's luck didn't look like changing as Bodkin beat the keeper all ends up with a great strike from 25 yards that came back off the upright. It really wasn't looking likely to be our day!

However, a couple of masterful substitutions from Baird with Jamie Brown replacing Baker in attack and Adam 'Taz' Roberts making a return to the club having re-joined, signing on a dual registration from Paul Doswell's Sutton United, came on for Taggart with thirteen minutes remaining.

Spitfires making use of their numerical advantage drew level with Brown's powerful downward header. A great goal all round and what better impact could both Roberts and Brown have made?With what was Roberts' second touch of the ball, the 20-year-old delivered the perfect cross to combine with fellow substitute JAMIE BROWN who found a 79th minute equaliser. The

Three minutes from time, Luke Byles was caught in possession by Lee Burns who bore down on goal with just the keeper to beat. Tom Jordan made a last ditch challenge but brought his marker down on the edge of the area. Being the last defender and denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, the referee had no choice but to dismiss the towering centre half.

Quinton missed the target by some distance from the resulting free kick.

Four minutes of added time were indicated by the match officials and you could sense the nerves and tension around the ground.

Brave defending from the visitors saw a Luke Byles shot well charged down that would otherwise have been on target and possibly have gone in had the defender not made the important deflection to take the ball into the side-netting.

In dramatic fashion in the second minute of stoppage time, ANTHONY RIVIERE slammed home his third goal of the season from the edge of the area to complete a remarkable turn of events and ensure the three points went to Eastleigh.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 2-1 Braintree Town


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