In-form Slabber helps Spitfires defeat Dover


Blue Square Bet South

Report by Ray Murphy

Take nothing away from this gritty Eastleigh performance as they returned from the shores of East Kent with a single goal victory against the previously unbeaten Dover Athletic. For sure this Eastleigh side will play a lot better this season and end up defeated such is the irony of our game.

The good news for Ian Baird was the passing of late fitness tests for both Will Hendry and Richard Gillespie. Warren Goodhind was absent from the line up owing to suspension which also brought a shuffle in the side with Ross Bottomley switching to left back, Danny Smith dropping into the right back role which allowed Hendry to return to the centre of midfield and Gillespie taking the right wing berth.

It was the unlucky Chris Mason who made way from the starting eleven at Havant & Waterlooville in their previous match. The home side also had their selection problems with influential midfielder Jo Tabiri missing through suspension and their loaned striker from Southend United Harry Crawford was missing through injury.

The game produced few chances with neither goalkeeper troubled in the first quarter of the game. Any Dover attacks were denied by the ever improving pairing of Chris Holland and Tom Jordan. The first attempt on goal came on twenty-two minutes but it was a weak header from Dover striker Elliott Charles that was fielded by Gareth Barfoot.  Three minutes later Hendry's pass in behind the Dover full back Tom Wynter saw Gillespie drive the ball right across the face of goal with nobody being able to apply a finishing touch.

On thirty-three minutes Adam Birchall collected a ball just inside the penalty area, turned but then fired his shot over, then two minutes later a long-range effort from Luke I’Anson was just over the bar.

With three minutes to go to the interval, Eastleigh took the lead. Brett Williams’ ball into Jamie Slabber saw the striker produce neat footwork to turn his defender before planting a right foot shot past Dover goalkeeper Ross Flitney into the net for his fifth Blue Square South goal so far this season.

The second period brought a highly determined defensive display from The Spitfires. It took Dover a further thirteen minutes though before breaking down the rearguard to face Barfoot but their first effort of the half was another effort from Charles that lacked pace. A minute later Barfoot did make an excellent stop though down at the feet of Birchall.

The home side were trying to raise their game and providing the Eastleigh defence with a few more questions. On sixty-one minutes a fine run and drive from right back Matt Fish brought another good stop from Barfoot, the same player having another attempt pushed away by the keeper four minutes later.

Barfoot produced an excellent sliding tackle on Birchall just outside the area with eight minutes remaining as Birchall had his eyes set on goal and four minutes later Dover substitute Ben Hunt was in behind Jordan his shot brushing off Barfoot on to the post and away for a corner.

The final whistle was a relieving sound for the Spitfires' followers and a fraught second period, but a fully welcomed three points from a solid Eastleigh performance.   
Dover Athletic - 040910


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