Staines 2-2 Eastleigh

STAINES TOWN 2-2 EASTLEIGH
TUESDAY 14th FEBRUARY 2012

Blue Square Bet South

Match report by Ray Murphy

Eastleigh ended up with a point against a Staines Town side that currently lie in second bottom position of the Conference South table. Although on paper this would look like two points lost, the true facts are that this Staines Town side belie their league position considerably as Eastleigh recovered from a two-goal deficit to take a point.

Not to defend Eastleigh - this was not a quality performance that has been shown of late, but their team work to get back into the game is good news for the future. Keeping the same side that had defeated Havant & Waterlooville seven days earlier, whilst for Staines this was their first league game for seventeen days and showed three changes from their last fixture with a debut for ex-Luton Town centre back Will Antwi.

Staines had the first chance of the evening in the fifth minute and Jack Dovey had to be alert to race off his line to deny Ali Chaaban. Eastleigh then took control of the possession for a while without really creating any chances. Daryl McMahon’s free kick on sixteen minutes into Damian Scannell saw Scannell turn and fire goalwards but his effort was blocked for a corner. A minute later Jamie Slabber's header from a Danny Smith cross was palmed away by Staines goalkeeper Rhys Evans.

The balance of play then swapped as Staines settled into their rhythm and the pacy front running pairing of Chaaban and ex-Eastleigh loanee Mark Nwokeji caused the Eastleigh defence several problems. The writing was on the wall too when Staines took the lead midway through the half. David Wheeler, whom had been a thorn in Eastleigh’s side several times before during his time with Lewes, won the ball in the middle of the park after Scott Rogers had been caught in possession. Wheeler then ran some thirty yards before side stepping a defender and firing low down past the diving Dovey.

Mitchell Nelson was showing a brave heart attitude from his full back role and on one rampage from his defensive duty on twenty-seven minutes rode his own luck with a wall pass off a Staines defender before his low long range effort was saved by Evans. Four minutes later Nelson almost became a villain when his short-headed back pass was collected by Nwokeji but Dovey was again alert to avert any danger.

Dovey made a fine save from a Nwokeji header on thirty-five minutes after a cross from Scott Taylor, then three minutes later the busy Dovey was again off his line to save at the feet of Chaaban. McMahon saw a shot drift just wide of the upright with Eastleigh’s only other chance before the interval.

Slabber, on the ground where he netted four first half goals last season, saw a shot deflected wide for a corner within the opening couple of minutes of the second period. It was not good news though for Eastleigh as Staines added a second goal on fifty-six minutes. The impressive Tom Kavanagh threaded a ball through the Eastleigh defence and both Nwokeji and Chaaban had time to allow Nwokeji to add the second goal of the game.

On sixty-one minutes Wheeler broke through in the centre of the park and Dovey was diving across his goal to stop Wheeler adding further to the tally.

Ian Baird made some inspired substitutions, Philip Appiah coming in to the middle of the park to replace Rogers whilst Slabber was also withdrawn to allow Jamie Brown to make his presence aware in the Eastleigh forward line. McMahon had a free kick saved by Evans on sixty-four minutes whilst four minutes later Taylor watched his shot from a free kick just go wide.

Graeme Montgomery was then thrown into the action at the expense of Michael Green allowing Eastleigh to play with just three in defence as they tried to claw back the deficit. A dipping shot just after the introduction of Montgomery by Kavanagh for Staines brought an excellent stop from Dovey just managing to turn the ball over the bar.

It was then though Eastleigh’s turn to get themselves back into the game where they had looked at second best. On seventy-five minutes Scannell worked his way into the box following good work by Nelson, Scannell sent sprawling in the box by Wheeler. Bradley Bubb thundered home the resultant penalty. Four minutes later and Bubb had to repeat the act despite a fine attempt to stop the shot by Evans, trying to atone for his dive at the feet of Scannell that saw Scannell again hit the floor and referee Mr Ashvin Degnarain award a second penalty within four minutes.

Tom Jordan almost capped a remarkable Eastleigh come back with a header from a McMahon corner on eighty-two minutes which went over the bar which proved to be the last chance of the evening.

Staines - 140212

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