Basingstoke Town 0-1 Eastleigh


Blue Square South

Report by Ray Murphy

It was a somewhat subdued Eastleigh dressing room before the Tuesday evening fixture at Basingstoke only seventy-two hours after suffering their worst ever Conference South defeat 2-8 at home to Thurrock. Manager Ian Baird made changes to the side that had been defeated.

Danny Smith reverted to right back, Ian Oliver recalled at left back, arguably the biggest surprise was to see striker Andy Forbes forming a central defensive partnership with Tom Jordan.  Ross Bottomley was given his first Eastleigh start in a central midfield role alongside Anthony Riviere with Peter Adeniyi and also starting for the first time Sam Butler on the left flank. Lee Roache was given his debut to play up front with Richard Gillespie. Jason Matthews kept hold of the number one spot. Aaron Cook found himself on the bench alongside Josh Webb, Freddie Toomer, youth teamer Lewis Robinson and physio Andy Cook doubling up as a substitute for the evening owing to the team members available.

Eastleigh started the game nervously but in the ascendancy. Roache had an early shot saved by home goalkeeper Richard Barnard. Mitchell Bryant a recent record breaker in his own right with six goals in one league match against Weymouth, went close in the sixth minute, his strike turned away for a corner.

Bryant was the provider in the tenth minute with a left wing cross that saw his strike partner David Pratt have a shot saved by Matthews. Chances for both sides then dried up for a while unlike the weather as the rain swirled the ground. Butler's trickery and cross from the flank in the twenty-sixth minute set up Gillespie for a header which uncharacteristically the striker put the wrong side of the upright.

Bryant got the ball away from Forbes seven minutes later but Matthews came to Eastleigh’s rescue, then on thirty-nine minutes Roache headed an Oliver cross over the bar. Two minutes later Butler giving his defender cause for concern whipped over a cross that skimmed the top of the Basingstoke bar but away to safety.

The second half started in the same vein with an Oliver cross being pushed away by Barnard. This half though Eastleigh did not allow their hosts to come back at them and they kept pressurising the Basingstoke rearguard. On the hour Bottomley’s pass set in Gillespie but he dragged his shot wide of the target.

Roache got in behind the Basingstoke defence in the sixty-fourth minute but he delayed his shot and Sean Hankins recovered to make a saving tackle. On sixty-eight minutes Bottomley’s header from a Gillespie cross was just wide also. The move was repeated two minutes later but this time Bottomley’s header was not of enough quality to worry Barnard.

Jordan’s through ball on seventy-two minutes ran into the path of Gillespie who lofted a shot above the advancing Barnard but the covering defender Ashley Mitchell cleared the ball off the line. Eastleigh's goal finally arrived on seventy-four minutes. Several chances had been blocked and charged down from Butler and Webb the ball finally falling for Riviere to thunder a shot just inside the post.

Bottomley saw a drive saved by Barnard immediately after and Butler produced an angled drive from out wide that also saw Barnard earn himself a man of the match award.

It was not until the closing stages of the game that Basingstoke posed any threat to the Eastleigh defence in the second period. Substitute wing man Matt Warner’s pace keeping the Eastleigh defence on their toes. Their best chance fell four minutes from time when Warner’s pace got him to the bye line but his cross into the Eastleigh six yard area saw no Basingstoke striker arriving to add a finishing touch.


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