Ebbsfleet 2-2 Eastleigh

EBBSFLEET UNITED v EASTLEIGH
TUESDAY 8th FEBRUARY 2011

Blue Square Bet South

Report by Ray Murphy 

Over 250 Chasetown fans made the long trip to the Silverlake Stadium to see their side put in a strong performance. Eastleigh meanwhile missed out on the opportunity to reach the Quarter Finals and £7,000 prize money.

A pulsating Blue Square Bet South fixture ended with both sides taking a point from a fixture that kept the 695 attendance kept firmly into their spots right until the final whistle.

The home side made three changes from their side that had been beaten at home by Farnborough 0-3 three days earlier, though goalkeeper Preston Richards who made the history books in that match by being the fastest ever player to be sent off for a goalkeeper (after only nine seconds) returned to his place between the posts. Eastleigh welcomed Anthony Riviere back into the midfield, Luke Byles returned to the starting line up whilst Pete Adeniyi and Ross Bottomley found themselves on the substitutes bench. Richard Gillespie was absent through injury.

The game started and maintained a cracking pace. Former Eastleigh midfielder Ashley Carew saw the first goal attempt of the evening on five minutes when his free kick was saved by Jason Matthews. Two minutes later Ebbsfleet full back Joe Howe broke from deep but his shot was also saved by Matthews.

As play switched to the Ebbsfleet end, Eastleigh took the lead on eleven minutes. Tony Taggart's corner to the far post saw Chris Holland meet the delivery with a dipping volley which struck the woodwork. The ball fell for Jamie Slabber to stab home his tenth league goal of the season and his third goal in three games.

Eastleigh only held the lead for four minutes before the home side equalised. Carew’s’ quickly whipped free kick from the touchline saw Ebbsfleet's leading scorer Calum Willock diving to divert the ball past Matthews.

Matthews was quickly off his line to keep the scores level taking the ball off the feet of Willock as he went in search of his second goal in as many minutes. On eighteen minutes Willock became the provider. One of the home sides fast raiding counter attacks saw Willock slip the ball through to Michael West but West failed to steady himself and screwed his shot across the face of goal.

There were chances galore coming at both ends. Willock on nineteen minutes got in behind the Eastleigh defence but saw his shot saved by Matthews. A minute later Eastleigh had the ball in the net with Slabber heading home from a Richard Graham cross but the goal was disallowed with an assistant's flag for an offside decision.

On thirty-five minutes, Mathews again had to stop a header from Willock from a Carew cross. Four miutes later, Anthony Riviere’s pass into the path of Shaun McAuley saw the winger bearing down on goal, but this time McAuley shot across the face of Edwards’ goal. On forty-four minutes another Carew cross saw Willock again head goalwards but this time his effort was just wide. In the second minute of stoppage time played at the end of the first period, Ricky Shakes tumbled over in the area under a challenge from Warren Goodhind, the referee Mr David Spain adjudging that enough contact had been made to award a penalty. Even the home supporters questioned the award. Carew thundered the spot kick past Matthews.

The second half saw no  relenting on the action. In the opening minute Taggart’s free kick was just over. Within two minutes and some spectators and officials still taking up their seats, Eastleigh grabbed an equaliser. McAuley sidestepped his defender Derek Duncan saw his shot palmed down by Preston but Riviere was on the spot to fire home the equaliser.

Chances freely flowed at either end as both Ian Baird and his counterpart Liam Daish went in search of the full three points. On forty-nine minutes Ebbsfleet skipper Paul Lorraine saw a header turned away for a corner. Four minutes later Willock won an aerial challenge that allowed Shakes a run on goal but the striker never really got the ball under control and wasted his shot.

Slabber saw a header from Graham's cross just wide of the target on fifty-seven minutes then seven minutes later Mathews was again producing a stop to deny Willock. A quick free kick by Clint Easton on sixty-five minutes floated into the Eastleigh area, saw Shakes just unable to add a finishing touch.

There was not time to take your eyes away from the action. On seventy-one minutes Preston produced the save of the evening flying to push Slabber's header from a Taggart free kick over the bar with his outstretched hand. Four minutes later Taggart’s corner arrived for Holland who fired wide.

Ebbsfleet changed their system for the final fourteen minutes adding more width to their original formation and it was the substitute Gareth Williams who arguably had the best two chances to settle the fixture. First he saw a shot blocked on eighty-one minutes followed eight minutes later when he managed to find himself space but only managed to fire over the bar.

An excellent nights entertainment and a deserved point for both sides.

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