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Whites all but end Eastleigh's playoff hopes



Blue Square South

Report by Ray Murphy

Before this game kicked off Eastleigh’s chances of reaching their goal of the play off places in the Division were an outside chance. If Dover clinched victory and other results went their way, they would have climbed into second place in the Blue Square South. Dover were on a run of five consecutive victories before the game including their last outing which was a four nil wipe out of Hampton & Richmond.

Eastleigh were unable to field Luke Wilkinson in their line up as he is in the process of being recalled by Portsmouth whilst Tom Jordan was a welcome return to the side following injury. Ross Bottomley was paired up front with Richard Gillespie. Dover were without midfielder Sammy Moore which also led to a couple of positional changes.

The game was never going to match up to the quality of the F A Cup tie that the two sides played back at The Crabble last October. This game was not close to that epic encounter. Anthony Riviere had a fourth minute shot saved by home goalkeeper Ross Flitney.

The game was then devoid of chances for some time with both midfields cancelling each other out and both sides unable to break down the defences. A somewhat fussy referee also did not allow the game to have any fluency. After a quarter of an hour Dover did have the ball in the back of the net from Shaun Welford but an offside flag had been raised well in advance of the ball hitting the net. On nineteen minutes Nick Southall’s cross to the far post was headed wide by the stretching Jake Marsh.

Tony Taggart bundled his way through a wall of Dover defenders making the most of a couple of ricochets off the defence but Flitney was off his line to save at the midfielder’s feet. Play switched immediately to the opposite end where Adam Birchall found himself in acres of space having received the ball from Jon Wallis  and took the ball round the advancing Jason Matthews before slipping the ball into the unguarded net.

On twenty-nine minutes Sam Butler’s cross was headed wide by Taggart whilst a minute later Warren Goodhind took the ball off the feet of Welford as he prepared to unleash a volley. On thirty-three minutes Matt Fish’s free kick was flicked on by Welford into the path of Birchall but Matthews was more alert than the striker and cleared the safety, as Dover threatened to increase their score. The last chance of the first half fell on forty minutes when a low Gillespie shot was pushed away by Flitney.

Six minutes into the second period an indirect free kick was awarded for a back pass by Aaron Cook to Matthews, but James Rogers blazed the ball high and wide from the attempt. Butler saw a low shot just wide two minutes later. Another effort from Butler on fifty-eight minutes was narrowly off target.

Eastleigh though got themselves back into the game on sixty-six minutes. The ball lofted high into the Dover area saw Jordan’s looping header eventually ending over the goalline despite the attempts of Dover skipper Olly Schulz for an Eastleigh equaliser.

Shaun McAuley had a shot well held by Flitney on seventy seven minutes as Eastleigh started to get on top in the game, whilst two minutes later Matthews was denying Birchall with another stop. It was in the eightieth minute when Dover scored what proved to be the fortuitous winner. Joseph Tabiri struck a shot from some thirty-five yards that took a major deflection off an Eastleigh defender and beyond the despairing dive of Matthews.

Dover then could have added to their score. Fish’s cross was cut out by Jordan then Matthews made a fine save from Welford after eight-three minutes, a minute later James Rogers drilled a shot wide of the target. As the game reached its conclusion Birchall’s shot and turn from the edge of the box was saved by Matthews.

With three minutes of stoppage time played Rogers turned Warren Goodhind before being dragged to the floor and a penalty was awarded. Birchall’s low, tame penalty kick though was saved by Matthews.  A minute later and again Birchall saw a shot saved by Matthews.



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