Six-goal Eastleigh cruise through in the FA Cup


FA Challenge Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Report by Ray Murphy

The importance of this FA Cup fixture in the Eastleigh calendar did not see the start that manager Ian Baird wanted before the game. The biggest problem to the manager was the late appearance of midfield duo Peter Adeniyi and Anthony Riviere who both did not arrive at the ground of Hellenic League Witney United until five minutes before the scheduled kick off time. With Aaron Martin already missing through suspension and Andy Forbes and Jamie Brown on the injured list, this was also assisted by Steve Clark whom it had thought had signed for Chelmsford City appearing in the dressing room after the move had fallen through, though missing from the side through injury.

Adeniyi and Riviere were both on the initial team sheet that only saw the change of Danny Smith returning to the side that had beaten Chelmsford City seven days earlier, Smith taking the right back berth with Warren Goodhind assuming the central defensive role to replace Martin. It was a late change to the side to exclude the two travelling midfielders diverted somewhere on the M25 to allow Trevor Challis to come in to the centre of the defence with Ian Oliver named at left back and Brett Poate moving into a central midfield role. Goodhind reverted to right back as Smith moved into the centre of midfield.

The home side who play three levels below Eastleigh also had their own problems. Long-term injured striker Gary Wickens sat in the stands whilst midweek signing ex-Chelsea midfielder Jordan Tabor was ineligible owing to a loan deal with his current club. Witney had the opening chance though when a throw in created a chance which Ricky Johnson could not convert.

Apart from that though the opening half belonged to The Spitfires. Richard Gillespie shot across the face of goal a minute after the early scare though a moment of hesitation allowed Ben Thompson a header from which Jason Matthews produced a stop.

Danny Smith saw a header saved by Witney goalkeeper Jon Okole from a Shaun McAuley cross but for the remainder of the half Okole was to have a torrid time. On nine minutes James Taylor chased a through ball to which Okole raced off his line to clear. Okole struck his clearance into Taylor’s torso some eighteen yards from goal. The ball rolled agonisingly goalwards. Taylor waited to see if he was to celebrate whilst it seemed that Okole chasing back to atone was running through quick sand, and although it seemed to take an eternity the ball did cross the line to give Eastleigh the lead.

Ten minutes later and Eastleigh scored their deserved second goal. McAuley's cross to the far post was headed down by Taylor and with Okole seemingly uncertain on claiming the ball, Gillespie tapped home the second goal of the afternoon. Two minutes later McAuley was allowed to drive a low shot from the edge of the area that left Okole rooted to the spot as the ball struck the inside of the upright and into the net.

The afternoon did not improve for Witney. Twenty-six minutes and an exquisite piece of Eastleigh play saw them add a fourth goal. Gillespie excellently controlled a Tony Taggart through ball, Gillespie’s control allowing Poate to fire a shot from twenty-five yards into the roof of the net past the hapless Okole.

Poate was celebrating again ten minutes later, Smith's ball into the area was handled by Witney's central defender Stuart Cattell, a penalty awarded and Poate sent Okole the wrong way from the spot.

Smith shot just wide of the target - his shot hitting the side netting, followed by Okole taking two attempts to stop another McAuley effort before Witney netted a goal. Tom Jordan and Matthews failed to clear a ball between them and Thomson made the most of the indecisiveness between the pair to open the Witney tally.

The last action of the half saw Taylor having a header saved by Okole. Okole failed to appear for the second period being replaced by Richie Barrett who was the first choice for the side before taking a vacation thus losing his place in the side to Okole for the past nine games. Riviere also was introduced at the interval to replace Goodhind with Challis.

The second half though was a different story. The Eastleigh following were expecting an onslaught of goals which was never to materialise. Taylor had an effort blocked by Vinnie Byfield early on in the second period but Witney held their own much more for this period.

Thompson was a constant threat to Eastleigh whilst winger Andy Younies also caused the defence concerns with his runs. Thompson had one header just wide then a shot that saw Matthews diving away to save.

The closest though that the home side came to reducing the deficit was on seventy four minutes when John McMahon’s corner was headed back by Lee Henderson but Caffell could not keep his goal bound header down.

If another goal was needed Eastleigh added it on seventy-eight minutes. Adeniyi and McAuley both combined before laying the ball off for Riviere to bury his second goal in two games.

Taggart had the last chance of the afternoon volleying wide when well placed but this was a comfortable passage for Eastleigh to progress into the third Qualifying Round of the F A Cup and award the club a cheque of £4,500. The win also equalled Eastleigh Football Club's best victory in the competition having twice previously recorded 5-0 victories.


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