Eastleigh 3-2 Thurrock


Blue Square Bet South

Match Report by Jamie Montigue

EASTLEIGH: Jack Dovey, Andy Forbes, Michael Green, Scott Rogers, Tom Jordan (c), Ross Bottomley, Jordace Holder-Spooner (Chris Flood 70), Billy Tsovolos, Jamie Brown, Damian Scannell (Sam Wilson 81), Graeme Montgomery. Subs (not used): Gareth Barfoot, Ben Wilson, Andrew White.

Goals: Eastleigh - Graeme Montgomery (28), Billy Tsovolos (39), Jamie Brown (43). Thurrock - Nathan Ashton (82), Jamie Guy (90 pen).

Eastleigh controlled the first half and looked to be out of sight with a three-goal lead at half time, but Thurrock came out fighting in the second half to claw back two late goals to set up a tense finish.

Today’s visitors were Thurrock, who heading into the game sat five points adrift at the foot of the table; however, the Fleet had changed their manager and brought in several new signings last week meaning Eastleigh were up against an unknown quantity in some ways.

Damian Scannell was welcomed back to the Silverlake Stadium after signing a two-year deal with Eastleigh nearly four years on since he departed for Southend United in January 2008.

The former Dagenham & Redbridge winger lined up in attack for Ian Baird's side and caused numerous problems for the visitors, particularly in the first half.

Danny Smith, Jamie Slabber and Ian Herring were all suspended for today's game, whilst Ross Bottomley returned from a ban to make the starting eleven. There were also starting berths for Jordace Holder-Spooner and Billy Tsovolos. New signing Scott Rogers made his home debut but Ali Fuseini was absent from the squad.

With just two minutes played, Scannell made an exceptional run down the left and squared the ball for Graeme Montgomery who skied his shot from just a couple of yards. Scannell came close himself with a couple of early chances whilst Rogers impressed in midfield with a commanding display.

Tom Jordan nodded wide from a Montgomery cross in the fourth minute and five minutes later Eastleigh goalkeeper Jack Dovey had his first save to make, a routine catch from a Lee Boylan header.

Scannell wrong-footed two defenders with trickery on the ball inside the opening ten minutes before lifting a delicate chip towards goal that drifted just over the bar. Scannell was in the thick of things again when Rogers’ through ball with the outside of his boot saw Scannell through on goal only for a weak effort to be comfortably saved by Craig Holloway in the Thurrock goal.

In the 14th minute, Dovey’s long kick up the pitch saw Scannell muscle his way past his marker and poke the ball around the on rushing goalkeeper, only to lose his footing as the opportunity came and went.

GRAEME MONTGOMERY broke the deadlock in the 28th minute with a stunning half-volley that flew into the top corner. Holloway got a glove to the effort but the power on the shot proved to be too much for the Thurrock goalkeeper.

Eastleigh then had a let-off when Michael Green was dispossessed in the 33rd minute and Lee Boylan struck the foot of the post for the visitors with a snapshot that had Dovey beaten.

It was the Spitfires who came back strong though, as the hosts dominated the remainder of the half with two more goals before the break.

Scannell won himself a penalty as his attacking dribble into the area resulted in the forward being brought down. Scannell picked himself up to take the penalty but saw his spot kick saved by Craig Holloway.

Six minutes before the break, BILLY TSOVOLOS raced into the penalty area to thump home Eastleigh's second goal from eight yards. In a blistering end to the half from the Spitfires, JAMIE BROWN soon added a third. Brown spun his marker superbly in the 43rd minute before planting an exquisite finish past the goalkeeper from the edge of the area to help Eastleigh to a convincing, dominant three-goal cushion at the half way stage.

Andy Forbes had a shot cleared off the line and Jack Dovey made a strong save at full-stretch at the opposite end to keep out Jamie Guy's effort in the closing stages of a productive first half for Eastleigh.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 3-0 Thurrock

After the break, Graeme Montgomery tried his luck from range with a powerful dipping effort that had to be tipped over the bar by Holloway in the 55th minute.

The game then became a little devoid of chances for a large spell but Thurrock finished the game strongly in stark comparison to the end of the first half.

Substitute Alex Osborn cut in from the right and found an opening but fired straight into the gloves of Jack Dovey in the 72nd minute.

In the 79th minute, Damian Scannell ran through on goal after an inch perfect pass from Montgomery only to see his shot from a tight angle saved by Holloway at his near post.

Montgomery had a low shot charged down to win Eastleigh a corner in the 81st minute before Sam Wilson was given a brief run out in place of Scannell who came off to a rapturous applause from the Spitfires faithful.

NATHAN ASHTON drilled home an unstoppable finish eight minutes from time to pull a goal back for the visitors leaving Dovey helpless in the Eastleigh goal.

Ahmed Deen then saw his free kick well held by Dovey as relentless Thurrock kept plugging away.

The visitors continued to press and saw an effort come back off the post, from which Michael Green was then penalised for holding an opponent back. A penalty was awarded and JAMIE GUY duly found the net from 12-yards despite Dovey's best efforts.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added and Eastleigh had to weather the storm as their three-goal lead was reduced to just a one goal deficit for Thurrock.

Thankfully for Eastleigh, the damage was already done in the first half and it was enough to claim all three points despite Thurrock's two late strikes.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3-2 Thurrock

Thurrock - 101211


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