Eastleigh kids 'thrown to the Lions'

By Wendy Gee -

EASTLEIGH boss Ian Baird admitted he felt sorry for the young lads “thrown into the lions’ den” in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly defeat at Oxford City.

The Spitfires again fielded a sprinkling of talented but inexperienced teenagers alongside their established stars and were undone by first-half goals from Felipe Barcelos and Jimmy Deabill.

Given that Oxford will again ply their trade in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier next season and Eastleigh are a step up in the Blue Square Bet South, the result will be viewed as something of a giant-killing by the home side.

But with 18-year-old Billy Tsovolos from Portsmouth playing at right-back, 17-year-old Ben Wilson at left-back and 16-year-old striker Sam Wilson up front, Baird was not overly surprised.

“We had our first reality-check at Sholing on Tuesday night," said Baird, who admitted Dave Diaper’s Southern One South & West outfit were "probably the better side” despite Eastleigh’s 2-1 win.

“And on Saturday we were up against another typical Southern League side with an average height of about 6ft lin and a squad of 20.

"I thought it would be a good test for us and so it turned out. I just felt sorry for our young lads thrown into the lions’ den.

"I had to take off young Sam Wilson at half-time, put on Andrew White and change to a 4-4-2 and we were better in the second half. But it was another reality check for us and showed our limitations when we lose one or two senior players.”

Jamie Brown’s physical presence would not have gone amiss for the Spitfires, but he was ruled out by a minor knee problem.

In his absence Baird asked leading marksman Jamie Slabber to provide some muscle in midfield and pushed midfielder Ryan O’Hara into attack.

The positive for Eastleigh is that former Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Mike Green and ex-Forest Green Rovers midfielder O’Hara are on the brink of joining.

“We’ve agreed a deal with Mike and Ryan and we’re trying to get a loan signing from a Championship club finalised today (Monday),” confirmed Baird.

However it is highly unlikely that ex-Saints defender Ryan Tafazolli and former Stockport County defender Jordan Rose will be staying with the Spitfires following trials.

The pair are still on trial with Reading and Crewe respectively and Baird said: “As far as we’re concerned there’s nothing doing with them.”

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