Priceless win over Beavers


Blue Square South

By Jamie Montigue

Eastleigh picked up their first league win in four games with a deserved 2-1 victory over a Hampton & Richmond side who were unbeaten in seven league games winning five on the bounce coming into this game.

Both Andy Harris (suspended) and Trevor Challis (injured) were missing from the squad and there were places for new signing Steve Clark who joins the club from Bromley, and a first league start of the season for Andy Forbes.

On the back of a confidence boosting 6-0 win over Totton & Eling in mid-week, Eastleigh took on Alan Devonshire's in-form troops in extremely adverse weather with the bitter cold, the blustery, swirling wind and constant heavy rain.

The first of the action saw a deep, looping free kick from Tony Taggart curl into the penalty area and bounce awkwardly in front of goal where the ball popped up and narrowly over the target.

In the fifth minute of the game, BEN WRIGHT opened the scoring for the Beavers with a well-placed shot that arched around Jason Matthews from the edge of the penalty area and into the net giving the visitors an early lead.

Hampton & Richmond might have doubled their lead eight minutes later. Lawrence Yaku combined well with the goalscorer Wright and hit a low shot towards the bottom right hand corner, only for Matthews to get behind the ball and keep out the danger.

A strong challenge from Luke Byles high up the park won back possession for Eastleigh in a great position. Peter Adeniyi picked up on the loose ball to the left of goal where he weaved to his right inside the eighteen yards box and got his shot away. The ball was creeping in at the near post when Matt Lovett scrambled across his goal to smother the attempt.

The Spitfires enjoyed a good spell of pressure having won a number of corner kicks in quick succession.

Excellent wing play from Tony Taggart in the 18th minute saw a dazzling run down the right from the midfielder result in his dangerous cross headed behind for a corner. From it, Matt Bodkin could not have executed the set piece any better as he forced a save out of Lovett directly from the corner kick. The Hampton & Richmond keeper having to palm the ball over the bar.

On the near side, Tony Taggart caused just as many problems with his in-swinging corner that had to be headed away off the post. The ball still hadn't been cleared and Taggart was able to cross again, only this time Lovett spilled the ball before the danger could be fully cleared.

In the same period of play, a free kick from Bodkin had to be punched away by Lovett, who was increasingly becoming the far busier goalkeeper.

A long-distance effort from Byles deflected off the head of Anthony Riviere and up into the safety of the keeper's hands in the 23rd minute.

Poor conditions meant the game became very scrappy with a long period of play and it wasn't until the 39th minute that the next chance came. Andy Forbes switched the play out to the left where Byles again tried his luck and wasn't all that far away with the long distance effort.

Three minutes before the break Eastleigh breathed a sigh of relief after a massive let off which could have seen them two goals behind going into the break. Wright took a downward header into his stride before seeing himself clean through and extremely unfortunate not to double his tally as his chip struck the frame of the goal with Matthews beaten.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0–1 Hampton & Richmond Borough

Conditions worsened in the second half with the heavy rainfall causing a saturated pitch but play continued with the visitors coming the closest after the break again through Wright with what could have been his hat trick, though for the second time, the goalscorer was denied by the woodwork.

Two minutes before the hour mark, a teasing Luke Byles cross was dropped by Lovett and very nearly on to the foot of Groves who was on hand, but the keeper had recovered just in time.

Ian Baird's side drew level through a TONY TAGGART header on the hour mark and it was just a matter of minutes before the Spitfires had turned the game around.

By far the best goal of the game came in the 64th minute when Taggart picked the ball up just inside the Hampton & Richmond half before leaving full back Marcello Fernandes for dead. Bringing the ball forward the former Havant & Waterlooville winger found another ex-Hawk delivering a pinpoint cross into the penalty area. Skipper TOM JORDAN threw himself at it with a great diving header that nestled low into the corner of goal, this his first for the club since his summer switch.

A superb turn around from Eastleigh complete with the goals separated by just three minutes overturned the Beavers' lead and set the Spitfires up and on their way to victory.

At this point there were now puddles scattered all over the pitch and surface water in places. It certainly was not the best of conditions on this dismal November afternoon but Eastleigh adapted best to the increasingly heavy pitch and dug deep to hold on and take all three points.

They may have even increased their lead further with Andy Forbes coming close from a volley 20 yards out that forced a good save out of Lovett low down, before an even better opportunity in the 73rd minute fell to Matt Bodkin.

Terrific play from Taggart once more saw him past his man with ease where he then picked out Bodkin who was in the clear running in at the far post, though the on-loan winger's clipped shot narrowly evaded the target.

Eastleigh made just one change with Jamie Brown taking to the field to replace Bodkin with ten minutes remaining, a switch that saw Forbes drop into the left of midfield.

The Spitfires defended resolutely with Jordan and Byles leading the way and despite a mysterious five minutes of time added on at the end, the hosts went on to claim a priceless victory.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 2–1 Hampton & Richmond Borough


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