St. Albans 0-1 Eastleigh - Spitfires up to 6th


Blue Square Bet South

Report by Ray Murphy
It was a dogged Eastleigh performance that by the end of the evening left them sitting just below the play off places in the Division. The Spitfires continued their impressive form with a record of six successive league victories and a run of twelve games unbeaten in league and FA Trophy fixtures stretching back to November.

Warren Goodhind was not fit enough to make the starting line up after sustaining an injury from Saturday's match against Dorchester while Brett Poate was missing from the substitutes bench having picked up another injury in the game the previous evening in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Justin Bennett, on loan from Gosport Borough, was given a place on the substitutes bench. For the home side; although struggling at the wrong end of the table, they were themselves unbeaten in four games and were forced to make a change to their line up from their side that had won at Basingstoke the previous Saturday. Striker Pelayo Gomez had played for Brentford Reserves during the afternoon.

This was not Eastleigh’s best performance by a long way but their determined defending kept them a clean sheet after spending a large part of the second period defending an attack minded St Albans side fighting for points for their own reasons.

Eastleigh had the first chance of the night on three minutes when Shaun McAuley’s shot was saved by Paul Bastock in the St Albans goal. Tom Jordan headed a Richard Graham corner over the bar on ten minutes. The early chances did not continue as the game slipped into a midfield contest with few chances for either side.

Chris Holland headed a Graham free kick over the bar midway through the opening half but neither goalkeeper was troubled. Eastleigh’s keeper Gareth Barfoot though had to be substituted on thirty-seven minutes with a groin injury giving a return to the action for Jason Matthews who had played the ninety minutes the night before in the Senior Cup tie.

On forty minutes, Eastleigh scored what proved to be the only goal of the evening. Anthony Riviere collected McAuley’s pass before advancing and firing a cross into the area which deflected up into the air off St Albans defender Pete Smith with the ball arriving at the far post for Richard Graham to tuck the ball home.   

The second period brought no more continuity to the play. Jamie Slabber shot wide in the opening minute of the half but the game continued to be a scrappy affair. The St Albans strikeforce of Inih Effiong and Domenico Petrucci were causing the Eastleigh rearguard concerns with their pace and a couple of times got in behind the defence looking suspiciously offside. On forty-nine minutes Effiong racing onto a David Deeney through ball was stumbling as he sent in a shot, which was saved by Matthews.

Matthews also saved another effort from Adam Martin on fifty-five minutes after ex-Eastleigh defender Adam Everitt had laid back a cross from James Fisher. The St Albans search for the equaliser saw a Effiong cross on sixty minutes fly across the face of goal with Petrucci unable to add a finishing touch and a relieved Riviere completely missing the ball as he raced back to help his defence. A minute later another Effiong cross was cleared but only to Deeney whose shot was just wide of the target.

A spate of quick St Albans substitutions followed as they tried to put more impetus into their attack. It was Eastleigh though who came more into the game. McAuley had a shot saved by Bastock on sixty-nine minutes. Four minutes later substitute Richard Gillespie raced onto Pete Adeniyi’s pass but under pressure from Ryan Frater only managed to fire his shot wide.

Two minutes later McAuley’s cross was met by a weak header by Slabber, which Bastock saved. On seventy-eight minutes Eastleigh should have made the game safe. Gillespie intercepted a pass between Ben Martin and Solomon Shields. Gillespie raced away but saw his shot saved by Bastock, Gillespie though collected the loose ball and delivered a cross into the area where Slabber just failed to make enough contact to score a second goal.

In stoppage time Ross Bottomley’s through ball saw Gillespie yet again in behind the St Albans defence but Gillespie drilled his effort across the face of goal.

A good three points gained by Eastleigh on one of their longest trips of the season to Clarence park which has never been a happy hunting ground for the side.

St Albans 250111


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