Advantage Eastleigh - Spitfires rampant in first leg of play off semi final


Blue Square South - Play off Semi-Final Leg 1

Report by Ray Murphy

The two league games that these two clubs had contested this season produced a solitary goal and that scored by Eastleigh came with almost the last kick of the game. Few therefore who visited the west London home of Hayes & Yeading United for this Blue Square South semi Final First Leg play off would have expected the scoring spree to be presented on the evening nor the value of the Eastleigh victory against a host side that had completed their last fifteen Blue Square South fixtures without a defeat.

The Spitfires welcomed back first choice goalkeeper Jason Matthews and midfielder Anthony Riviere into their side that also contained the returning Warren Goodhind and Jamie Brown restored to a striking role. An exhilarating opening by Eastleigh saw them take a four-goal lead as well as miss a penalty and see their opponents lose their leading goalscorer to a red card.

The drama started on just five minutes. Goodhind’s free kick into the area was helped on by skipper Tom Jordan allowing Tony Taggart to loop a header over keeper Aaron Howe giving Eastleigh the advantage.

Were Eastleigh going to sit back on their early breakthrough? The answer was definitely no. A minute after the goal, Goodhind launched a further long throw into the box, again Jordan helped on with the ball striking the arm of Hayes & Yeading skipper Tom Cadmore and referee Gavin Muge awarded Eastleigh a penalty. The normally reliable Taggart rolled his shot low to Howes left but the keeper sprawled across his line to make the save.

Eastleigh though were not to be denied. They kept attacking their home rivals. A minute after the penalty a Taggart corner was scrambled away from the finishing power of Brown. Ashley Carew provided a ball into the box shortly after this time only for Brett Williams to head over the bar.

The stunned home side managed to break away from their own half on the tenth minute and won a corner from which their leading scorer Josh Scott looped a header over the Eastleigh bar.

The host side started to settle after the early Eastleigh onslaught. Goodhind was penalised for a foul on Will Hendry on the edge of the area on sixteen minutes from which Hendry himself took the free kick but his low drive was saved by Matthews.

On twenty minutes Goodhind’s cross was headed back by Brown falling nicely for Taggart but the winger volleyed his effort over the bar. As play switched to the opposite end a minute later, a low shot on the turn by Scott was saved at his near post by Matthews.

With twenty-six minutes played Eastleigh added their second. Luke Byles’ ball into the area saw Brett Williams collect the ball; his first effort being blocked but the young striker steadied himself before burying a left footed drive beyond the reach of Howe.

Tempers flared over on thirty-eight minutes. Carew and Scott were involved in a fracas that ended with referee Muge cautioning Carew but issuing Scott with a straight red card for moving his head towards Carew which was deemed as violent conduct thus not only making Scott sit out the rest of this game but any future games in this seasons Blue Square South play off fixtures that Hayes & Yeading may be involved with.

Worse was to follow for the home side. On the stroke of half time another Taggart cross into the Hayes six yard area saw Riviere arrive first to plant a header into the back of the Hayes net to give Eastleigh a three goal interval lead.

The second half started with Eastleigh in the same attacking vain. Within two minutes of the restart Brown's header from a Taggart free kick bounced right across the face of the Hayes goal with no one able to apply the finishing touch. On fifty-one minutes Eastleigh did add a fourth goal. A turn and shot after collecting the ball on the edge of the box from Williams, wrong-footed Howe with the assistance of a massive deflection off James Mulley but the striker’s second goal of the evening gave Eastleigh a four-goal advantage.

Carew’s cross three minutes later gave Williams the chance to claim a hat trick but this time composure escaped Williams and he failed to hit the target. With fifty-nine minutes played the home side gave Eastleigh an alarm call. Substitute striker Scott Fitzgerald thrown into the fray at half time headed the ball into the back of the Eastleigh net but the goal was disallowed for an offside flag from the referee’s assistant.

The deficit was reduced on seventy-one minutes. The Hayes & Yeading man of the match Hendry shot goal wards after being set up by Fitzgerald hitting the arm of an Eastleigh defender and the second penalty kick of the evening was awarded. This time Hendry made no mistake with his penalty.

Taggart saw a curling shot pushed away by Howe but the last minutes belonged to the home side as they again attempted to reduce the deficit further. Mathews pulled off another good stop from a shot by Hendry, then an in swinging corner from the Hayes danger man saw Aaron Martin head the ball from under his own bar.

As the game was drifting off into stoppage time another Hendry corner arrived at the far Eastleigh post where a collection of Hayes players were arriving allowing centre back Matt Ruby to head home a second Hayes goal thus they travel to Eastleigh for the second leg with only a two goal deficit.


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