Boss cannot find fault with Forbes

By Wendy Gee -

IAN Baird has had his ups and downs with Andy Forbes during his four-and-a-half years in charge of Eastleigh.

But the Silverlake boss was brimming with praise for Forbes following Saturday’s 4-0 romp at second-to-bottom Hampton & Richmond which lifted the Spitfires to eighth in the Blue Square Bet South.

Forbes, once a prolific striker, rejoined the club last summer, principally as centre-half, and for much of this season has done a solid job alongside skipper Tom Jordan in the heart of defence.

But, with Baird opting to give Michael Green a rest, he was asked to fill in at left-back on Saturday, allowing new signing Gary Elphick to partner Jordan.

The 32-year-old’s response was to serve up a near faultless performance which had his manager drooling.

“Andy Forbes was outstanding,” said Baird. “He’s a multi-talented footballer who, in my opinion, should have achieved a hell of a lot more.

“Ask the players and I’m sure they’d tell you he could be our player-of-the-season. He’s played right back, centre back, left back and up front and has filled every position superbly."

"The old Forbesy could never do a whole pre-season but, because of the position we were in, he played every minute last summer and he's pretty much been ever-present this season.

"Forbesy's an intricate character and looks at me like I'm a piece of dirt if I go off on one! I had a go about his throw-ins at half-time on Saturday and he's come out second half, played superbly and scored a goal. Long may it continue."

Having taken 70 minutes to hit their stride in a 2-2 mid-week draw at Staines, Eastleigh this time came bursting out of the blocks to lead on six minutes when Daryl McMahon - shifted into central midfield to replace the unwell Scott Rogers - teed up Jamie Slabber to head home.

Hampton almost levelled when skipper Dean Inman's header bounced back off the upright and the game was then held up for nine minutes when assistant referee Rob Smith went off injured and a replacement was found from the crowd.

It took Eastleigh until the 66th minute to strike again when Damian Scannell laid the ball across the goal face where Bradley Bubb was waiting to net his seventh goal in the last four games.

Six minutes later Forbes capped a fine performance, collecting the ball in the left-back position and advancing some 35 yards before placing a shot just inside keeper Craig Ross's right-hand post.

The Spitfires struck again in stoppage time when substitute Jamie Brown was fouled on the edge of the area and McMahon sent a left-footed free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.

"Hampton are on a hiding to nothing. Their budget's been cut significantly since they were play-off contenders every year," said Baird. "They're a young side, but you can only beat what's in front of you.

"I didn't think we played particularly well in the first half, under no pressure, and there were one or two words said at half-time."

Eastleigh, still nine points behind fifth-placed Sutton, can edge closer to the play-off zone with victory at Salisbury City tomorrow (7.45pm).

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