Luckless Eastleigh dominate but fail to score in goalless draw


Blue Square South

Report by Jamie Montigue

At the fifth time of asking, Eastleigh’s winless Saturday run continued as lady-luck went against the Spitfires once more.

An optimistic view to take would be that, although there was still no Saturday win after today’s visit of Staines Town to the Silverlake Stadium, at least a run of four straight weekend defeats was brought to an end by picking up one point in this goalless stalemate.

That said, eight points from as many games certainly leaves an awful lot to be desired for Ian Baird and his side and surely their fortune will change sooner rather than later as their performances have in general been good with just a lack of results and not taking the chances created being the most disappointing factor.

Eastleigh were boosted by the return of Tony Taggart from suspension, though Warren Goodhind missed out due to a hamstring injury this afternoon in an otherwise unchanged side from the August bank holiday Monday encounter with Woking.

As both sides tried to settle into the game, there was very little to choose from to begin with but as the half wore on Eastleigh had enough chances to be at least 2-0 to the good.

Man of the match Aaron Martin was in outstanding form as he oozed class and confidence in the centre of defence for the hosts with countless vital interceptions, blocks, tackles and headers throughout the game.

In the twelfth minute, Andre Scarlett fed an excellent through ball into the path of Richard Butler whose dangerous delivery flashed across the face of the Eastleigh penalty area only to find no one in sight to take advantage.

James Taylor slid in on Staines goalkeeper Louis Wells at the opposite end to win possession 18 yards from goal to the left hand side, but with an empty goal ahead of him, Taylor was dispossessed by an excellent recovering tackle to spare his keeper’s blushes.

The visitors came close from a free kick that was nodded narrowly wide of Jason Matthews’ upright soon after, before Steve Clark conceded a free kick which Scarlett fired towards goal only to be charged down courageously by Danny Smith.

Eastleigh hit a high ball into the box from a Clark cross on the near side and with three white shirts underneath it; Louis Wells came to the Swans rescue with an important goalkeeper’s punch under pressure to clear for a throw in.

Only a minute later, Wells was on hand to keep his side in the game again. Smith played the ball out to Brett Poate who delivered from the left in search of Aaron Martin – ready to head home, when Wells intervened to claw the ball away from the Eastleigh centre half.

Keeping Staines on the back foot, Eastleigh looked set to take charge with further pressure on Wells’ goal.

Marien Ifura was penalised for a push on Tom Jordan just yards outside the penalty area to hand the hosts a free kick in a precarious position in Poate territory. Indeed, it was the former Hawk who struck the set piece with the ball taking a deflection off the outside of the wall to wrong-foot the keeper. The ball seemingly moved in slow-motion to the corner of goal and it was just the start of signs to come with the post denying Eastleigh, to keep the ball out so unfortunately with the woodwork the only Staines saviour to ensure they were not behind at this stage in the game.

With half an hour on the clock, Swans defenders Simon Jackson and Danny Gordon collided calamitously with one another to pave the way for a glorious opening as Tony Taggart took control of the ball finding himself with only the keeper to beat.

Eastleigh’s top goalscorer from last season snatched at the chance blasting the ball straight at the keeper perhaps unaware as to how much time and space he actually had.

Nine minutes before the break, an Eastleigh corner wasn’t fully cleared as the ball came back out to Anthony Riviere. The former Fisher Athletic midfielder passed back out to Smith who sent a cross in from the left flank with his right foot to cause mayhem inside the Staines six-yard box. Wells spilled the ball, dropping right on to the feet of Spitfires skipper Tom Jordan who managed to get the ball out to James Taylor, who with the goal at his mercy, failed to hit the target from just a couple of yards out as another big chance went amiss for the home side.

Darty Brown had to be replaced towards the end of the first half having landed awkwardly from an aerial challenge which led to six additional minutes being added on and one-time Eastleigh winger Leroy Griffiths taking to the field as a replacement.

The last of the action at the end of the added time saw Jason Matthews called into action for the first time of note in the game. Andre Scarlett lofted the ball forward for Butler to take into his stride in an on-side position and looking to casually lob the Eastleigh stopper from the edge of the area only to be denied by Matthews who stood tall to make an important save.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0–0 Staines Town

Ian Baird made a double substitution during the break introducing the fit again Shaun McAuley, who has been out of action for two weeks through injury, and Richard Gillespie in order to try and bring fresh impetus into Eastleigh’s charge for breaking the deadlock.

Within a minute of the restart, Steve Clark picked out Andy Forbes with a glorious right-wing cross that was met by an even better header from the Eastleigh striker. The effort had a goal written all over it but for the second time in the game the woodwork denied the Spitfires and helped Staines survive another vicious attack on goal from the hosts. The ball somehow was kept out not only by the foot of the post, but rolled tantalisingly close to trickling over the goal line before the ball was eventually cleared.

It looked as though Eastleigh had finally done it - found a way through the Staines rearguard and picked out the back of the net to get themselves deservedly in front though nothing is ever that simple with the luck Eastleigh have had of late.

If it wasn’t the post or the frame of the goal coming to Louis Wells’ aid to keep his clean sheet in tact thus far, it could only mean the referee’s assistant’s flag was the next to dampen Eastleigh’s spirits.

In the 51st minute, a neatly worked free kick from Brett Poate was chipped delicately into the mixer with Aaron Martin charging in to launch himself at the ball and beat the keeper with a fine diving header from six yards out. Cue the celebrations from player and fans alike, but it was all in vein and far too short-lived as the flag was up for an alleged offside decision with Eastleigh going back to square one wondering just what they needed to do to find themselves a goal.

There was no doubt at this point that Eastleigh were on top and in control of the game, but with all the things going against them it just looked as though it could be another one of those days for the Spitfires in front of goal. Needing that little bit of luck, it sadly never came and it has been the story of Eastleigh’s first eight games to this campaign, playing well enough but not making it count on a regular basis.

Tom Jordan couldn’t quite keep his header down and on target from a Poate delivery before Taggart played McAuley in on goal when the Staines defence got back to clear their lines with the keeper beaten.

A minute shy of the hour, a cross-field pass from Andy Forbes out to the right wing for McAuley resulted in a fine first-time cross to the far post though the delivery had just a little too much on it for Richard Gillespie to get to.

Further impressive football from Eastleigh saw Taggart create an opening for Anthony Riviere who skipped past his marker, almost walking into the penalty area making it look all so easy before unleashing a stinging drive at goal which could only be parried by Wells. Gillespie looked to pounce on the rebound of this splendid effort but the keeper had instinctively reacted to claim the loose ball.

As the game began to stretch and open up with attacking play now being displayed at either end, Eastleigh’s rearguard was proving very tough to break down for the visitors as Aaron Martin continued to dominate and draw the plaudits.

In the 68th minute, Forbes found McAuley in acres of space to his right to present a golden opportunity. The former Hampton & Richmond flying winger did well to make the room but needed to show some composure and carry the ball a little more into the area before finishing.

Instead McAuley hit a rather hurried effort that was drilled comfortably wide of the mark, when hitting the target should have been the least that was expected.

For the hosts having so many chances, it became increasingly frustrating for Eastleigh who try as they might, just could not make their dominance show on the scoreboard where it matters most and at ten to five can translate to valuable Blue Square South points.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Eastleigh were then denied a clear cut penalty as ClarkBristol had no intention of pointing to the spot. crossed from the right into the penalty area. Andy Forbes was blatantly shoved in the back and had a defender jump all over him and yet, the referee Andy Newell from

Trevor Challis substituted the substitute Shaun McAuley, who presumably picked up a knock or was taken off for precautionary reasons having only just returned to action this afternoon – a move which saw left back Brett Poate push forward to left midfield to accommodate Challis.

Staines applied some late pressure of their own in a frantic finale to the game. Could there have been a late winner after all?

Four minutes from time, Eastleigh came within a whisker of taking all three points but were denied by the all too familiar tale of the post keeping the ball out as Peter Adeniyi latched on to Riviere’s well crafted pass to the right of goal and hit a sweet, crisp, low shot with the outside of his right boot that beat the goalkeeper all ends up before coming back off the inside of the post.

Peter Adeniyi fires against the inside of the post

The towering midfielder really could not have come any closer, and it just begs the question – are the goals at the Silverlake Stadium regulation size?!! Perhaps they need to be shaved down a few inches in time for the visit of Chelmsford City in a fortnight’s time!!

Richard Gillespie then came close but dragged a shot wide of goal and then a minute later Tony Taggart ran half the length of the pitch in a 3 v 2 situation in Eastleigh’s favour; to slip the ball into the feet of Gillespie who connected with the piledriver that was saved by Wells.

Incredibly the game was still in the balance even at this late stage as Staines had a similar chance to break away and counter with both sides going all out for a winner in these nail-biting final stages of the game.

Gareth Risbridger was dismissed late on for two yellow card offences in a short space of time leaving the Swans with ten men, but it was far too late to make a difference or hand Eastleigh any advantage as the time was far spent and sadly Eastleigh came away with one point instead of the three they so desperately crave right now.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Staines Town

Photos courtesy of Graeme Horobin

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More pictures here, by Jamie Montigue

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