Cup Heartache - Dominating Eastleigh lose out to injury time winner at second-best Barrow


FA Cup 1st Round Proper

Report by Ray Murphy

Eastleigh Football Club’s first ever foray into the First Round Proper of the FA Cup ended in disappointment for The Spitfires. A goal in the third minute of stoppage time saw Eastleigh leaving the wet North with a result they did not deserve.

Eastleigh started with Andy Forbes filling a centre back role alongside Tom Jordan with Jamie Brown starting up front alongside Richard Gillespie, Danny Smith in the midfield. Barrow started with their loanee striker from Carlisle United Andy Cook partnering leading scorer Jason Walker as ‘The Bluebirds’ went in to the game on the back of a seven match unbeaten run against Blue Square Premier opposition. The prize of course for both clubs was a ticket into the FA Cup Second Round along with thirty nine other clubs plus £18,000 prize money.

With Barrow a division above Eastleigh there was never a distinction between the two divisions that you would have known that Barrow were the higher placed side. Eastleigh were by far the more dominant side throughout this fixture and it was the least they deserved when they grabbed an equaliser with five minutes of normal time remaining though eight minutes later Eastleigh’s hearts were broken when a driven ball from thirty five yards skipped past the diving Jason Matthews and nestled into the net for a winning Barrow goal. To emphasise the superiority of Eastleigh’s performance arguably the man of the match despite some heroic Eastleigh displays was the Barrow goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson.

The match started off at a frantic pace, the pace that lasted the entire match, during which there were intermittent heavy rain showers. The first chance of the game arrived on eight minutes as Anthony Riviere and Tony Taggart combined which allowed a chance for Brown but his effort was blocked by Barrow defender Gareth Jelleyman. Three minutes later Warren Goodhind sent in a lofted shot from forty-five yards that saw Tomlinson back pedalling furiously to tip the ball over the bar.

Midway through the opening half Jason Matthews’ kick was flicked on by Brown, Richard Gillespie laid the ball back for Riviere to fire in a shot that was blocked, the ball fell for Taggart only for Taggart’s shot to produce an excellent stop by Tomlinson, the ball this time falling for Peter Adeniyi who fired a shot across the face of goal.

An exquisite piece of Eastleigh play on twenty six minutes saw Adeniyi from Riviere’s pass, slip the ball down past the advancing goalkeeper Tomlinson, but Barrow skipper Paul Jones managed to recover and guard his keeper to clear the ball off the line. Gillespie’s turn and shot on thirty-five minutes brought yet another fine stop from Tomlinson. A minute later completely against the run of play Eastleigh were behind. Barrow’s Cook lofted a shot from twenty five yards that caught Matthews flat-footed and the ball rolled down the back of the net and Barrow had their undeserved lead.

Eastleigh still retained the upper hand and on forty-one minutes a barrage of Eastleigh corners ended with Riviere having a shot cleared off the line. The second period still never saw a change in the pattern. Twelve minutes into the half Gillespie saw a header tipped over the bar. A minute later Riviere saw a header pushed away by Tomlinson, the ball retrieved by Forbes who crossed the ball back only for Jordan to head just over.

On sixty-nine minutes Brown had a low shot saved at the foot of the post by Tomlinson for a corner. From the corner Forbes had a header cleared off the line. Two minutes later a ball played out wide to the angle of the Barrow penalty area saw Gillespie upended by the onrushing Tomlinson. Eastleigh were bemoaning their luck again when referee Lewis adjudged the foul to be outside the area and only a free kick awarded of which Poate’s attempt was cleared.

Seventy-three minutes and substitute Shaun McAuley’s run and powered shot again saw Tomlinson standing tall to save. A minute later Goodhind fired over. Eastleigh moved on all out attack, Forbes was released from his defensive duties to help the strike force, which did leave gaps in the Eastleigh rearguard. This allowed Barrow a couple of chances but still only on breakaways. Andy Bond missed a chance when well placed on eighty minutes and a minute later Matthews’ only save of the match that he had to make with the exception of the two times he was beaten denied Carlos Logan.

It was thoroughly deserved when Eastleigh did finally manage to get the ball in the net. Eighty five minutes played Forbes saw yet another Tomlinson double save deny Eastleigh a goal but Riviere shot the ball back towards goal and after bouncing off Gillespie, Forbes stabbed the ball home and it looked as though Eastleigh had gained their replay at least.

It was with some dismay and bewilderment that the fourth official showed that a minimum of five minutes stoppage time had to be played. Three of those minutes had gone when Jason Walker sent an angled drive from forty yards that skipped across the soaking wet ground and took an eternity it seemed to agonisingly go past the diving Matthews before hitting the net sending the Eastleigh players to their knees.

It was an excellent performance from the Eastleigh side acknowledged by a band of several hearty souls from Hampshire a performance that was not in accordance with the final result that sent Barrow into the Second Round of the F A Cup for the second successive season. A further account to the superiority in the Eastleigh play and their dominance was the corner statistic of Eastleigh 18 Barrow 2.

Photos courtesy of Graeme Horobin

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