Eastleigh feel the pinch after another cup exit


FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

By Ray Murphy

Eastleigh provided a disappointing performance to exit the F A Cup at the Third Qualifying Round stage at Ryman League Premier Division side Burgess Hill Town. Keeping faith with the starting eleven that had been defeated by Havant & Waterlooville four days earlier, James Baker passing a fitness test to take his place in the side.

Eastleigh started on top. After two minutes Tony Taggart's free kick was turned away by home goalkeeper Craig Stoner. Seven minutes later Matt Bodkin's pass into Matt Groves saw the striker’s weak finish easy to collect for Stoner. A Taggart cross on seventeen minutes saw Baker's header saved by Stoner. On twenty minutes Anthony Riviere and Peter Adeniyi exchanged passes on the edge of the box, Adeniyi then strode into the area before sending a shot across the face of goal with nobody able to add a finishing touch. Groves was unable to fully control a ball into the box on his chest and as he turned to produce his shot a defender cleared the ball, Groves catching the defender to earn himself a yellow card which was to prove much more serious later on.

In the twenty-fifth minute, another Taggart free kick struck Adeniyi in the area and the ball rolled just wide of the target. As Eastleigh continued to miss chances the home side visibly grew in confidence. Burgess Hill's first attempt did not arrive until the twenty-ninth minute when skipper Steve Harper had a shot pushed away by Jason Matthews. A minute later Dan Beck had a shot blocked by Luke Byles.

Inevitably after the possession that Eastleigh had enjoyed thus far, they went behind after thirty-nine minutes. Richard Greenfield’s shot was parried by Matthews the ball falling for Harper to turn the ball back into the net.

Within three minutes of the restart Taggart's cross into the area was again inviting but no one in an Eastleigh shirt was able to get on the end of it. In the fifty-fourth minute there was further bad news for Eastleigh as they went two goals behind. A long ball out of the Burgess Hill defence saw Harper collect the ball before sending the ball over the advancing Matthews and into the net.

As the afternoon grew worse for Eastleigh, Groves chased the ball on sixty two minutes from an offside decision, fired the ball into the back of the net but was then shown a second yellow card by referee Stephen Daly for kicking the ball away. Burgess Hill's towering centre back Danny Gainsford received the same treatment eight minutes later as he hoisted the ball high into the sky after the whistle had been blown for an infringement.

For the last quarter of an hour Eastleigh went in all out attack to try to get themselves back into the game. Riviere twice fired just off target from outside the area. But as they pressed forward they also left gaps at the back, Ben Johnson took advantage of one breakaway taking on Andy Harris then drilled his shot across the face of goal but away to safety. Harper played the ball into Johnson again three minutes later but a lack of composure saw the ball dragged wide of the target.

As Eastleigh quickly moved the ball to the other end of the park, Byles’ cross arrived for Taggart to fire over the bar. With two minutes of the original ninety remaining Taggart headed home a cross from Adeniyi to give Eastleigh a slight lifeline with an additional five minutes added time also to be played. A Jamie Brown header from Taggart's free kick was saved by Stoner then Riviere slid a shot past Stoner only for the ball to strike the upright.

But it was not going to come right for Eastleigh; Burgess Hill took the full applause at the end of the ninety minutes to take their place in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the F A Cup.

An announcement on the club's messageboard from Director of Football Dave Malone revealed that the Board will be meeting with the manager, coaching staff and players this week with regard to the playing budget for the rest of the season.

The statement read: "We can confirm that members of the Board of Eastleigh Football Club will be holding discussions with the Manager, Coaching Staff and players over the next few days, in order to confirm our playing budget for the remainder of this season.

Along with every other Football Club, we have suffered directly from the on-going "credit crunch" - with a substantial reduction in our sponsorship income. This in turn has had a detrimental effect on our cash flow, and following our exit from 2 Cup Competitions in the past week it would be remiss of the Board not to seek appropriate action.

We would wish to make it clear that any action we might favour, will be in the full knowledge of and with the full co-operation of the Manager."


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