Farnborough 6-2 Eastleigh

Tuesday 2nd October 2012

Blue Square Bet South 

Match report by Paul McNamara 
The Spitfires’ start to this match was in complete contrast to Saturday’s high-tempo beginning against Hayes & Yeading.

Unlike that fast and positive opening at the Silverlake, this Eastleigh team - showing 5 changes from a fine 3-1 win - ere sluggish and hesitant.

When, with 26 minutes still remaining, Mitchell Nelson slid the ball into his own net to concede a 6th goal the whole night was summed up in one moment.

Credit to Farnborough. They were determined not to let the visitors settle. Each time an Eastleigh player had possession they were quickly closed down and hounded by a number of yellow shirts.

The Spitfires couldn’t get out of their own half, and were being opened up by Boro’s wide players far too frequently.

Reece Connolly, playing as the Yellows main striker, enjoyed a regular supply of crosses. Most worryingly Gary Elphick – in for Tom Jordan – and Andy Forbes weren’t able to come to terms with the powerful forward’s physical presence.

When the first goal arrived, only 5 minutes in, it came as little surprise. It was, however, completely avoidable.

Daniel Bennett was afforded far too much time and space to hit a low shot which squirmed under Jack Dovey and into the back of the net.

The ‘keeper had a chance to redeem himself soon after. Yet another ball was allowed into the Eastleigh box far too easily where the unmarked Connolly powered a downwards header towards goal. Dovey pulled off an exceptional save, tipping the ball up and over his bar.

Still there was little respite, as Farnborough maintained a devilish pace and direct approach to their game.

Some desperate defending on the edge of the Eastleigh box resulted in a free-kick, which when struck left-footed by Nic Ciardini – whose range of passing throughout the first-half was impressive – flew under a weak Spitfires wall and into the bottom-right corner. Dovey had no chance.

When Eastleigh did manage to establish any foothold in the play they were offering an attacking threat.

Moses Ademola, taking up a central position, was cleverly finding space and Marvin Williams, on the few occasions the ball was worked out to him, was willing to run at defenders and pose Farnborough some problems of their own.

It was this duo that offered the Spitfires a lifeline. A fantastic run inside by Williams, after Hughes found him out wide, was rounded off by a superb slide rule pass to Ademola. The ex-Woking player confidently took the ball past Craig Bradshaw in goal. His finish was strong enough to avoid a despairing defensive lunge on the line.

Any hope that the goal may settle the visitors and allow them to impose their passing game on the Yellows was scuppered all too soon, and again they had only themselves to blame.

Adam Everitt - who endured a difficult night on his first start of the season – perhaps mindful of the number of occasions he’d been exposed by Bennet early in the game, flew into a needless late tackle high in his own half. The left-back was booked and his team paid the ultimate price.

Once the set-piece was swung into the area the Spitfires, despite more than once chance couldn’t clear their lines before, inevitably, Connolly struck a powerful left-footed shot into the corner of the net. After the encouragement of pulling a goal back this was a sickening blow.

Eastleigh did enjoy more possession as the half closed but there could be little argument with the half-time score.

When a side performs as poorly as Eastleigh had in the first-half it can be tempting for a manager to ask the same eleven to take responsibility and find a way out of the hole which they’ve dug for themselves.

On this night, however, Richard Hill would have been forgiven for starting to ring the changes from the half-hour onwards.

The manager waited until half-time to replace Elphick with Tom Jordan, and the slightly unfortunate Williams with Jai Reason.

Reason – returning to the position in which he’s excelled behind Craig McAllister, with Ademola moving out wide – was the usual terrific influence to which we’ve become accustomed.

Almost immediately the Spitfires looked a more dangerous and confident prospect. They pressed their opponents higher up the pitch, and ensured Reason received plenty of the ball which he used intelligently, linking well with his wide-men, and in particular, McAllister.

Indeed, Reason and McAllister appear to be developing a real understanding. The service to the forward man in the first-half was poor, leaving him trying to rely on his exemplary touch to hold balls’ fired at various parts of his body.

Eastleigh’s play as the second half developed was far more incisive and it appeared only a matter of time before their renewed vigour would be rewarded.

As it transpired the complete opposite occurred.

When Dale Binns - who despite no lack of effort struggled to find any end product all night - sloppily surrendered possession to Ollie Treacher, the left-back immediately hit the ball forward, horribly exposing the gaping hole through the middle of the Spitfires team.

Connolly strode onto the ball and his expert finish, low past Dovey, never looked in doubt.

This began one of the most crushing 3 minute spells you’re ever likely to witness.

The fifth goal arrived only 2 minutes after the fourth. Farnborough were allowed to retain possession under little pressure wide on the right before a shot from substitute Josh Huggins beyond Dovey hit the far post and span agonisingly across goal and into the net.

If you thought that was going to provide the definitive microcosm of the night’s action you’d have been wrong. That duly arrived when, after Forbes weakly lost a challenge on the halfway line, ‘Boro were able to break again.

In fairness to Nelson, his tackle as the ball arrived from the right was well timed. The direction the right-back’s outstretched boot struck the ball wasn’t quite so welcome, nestling as it did snugly in the corner of the net.

After that alarming mini-collapse, Eastleigh actually produced some of their best play of the evening.

The way the team kept working and probing in such a hopeless cause was admirable, leaving the overriding emotion as one of frustration at what could have been possible if the visitors had started the match in this manner.

Reason, McAllister, Ademola and Southam were all integral to some excellent play. McAllister twice came close, Binns shot over when well-placed and other initially well-worked opportunities to deliver quality into the area were wasted.

When, with two minutes to play, Binns squeezed a ball back to Reason, the standout Spitfire on the night used his strength and skill to hold off a firm challenge and lift a thumping shot into the roof of the net. It was a strike worthy of more than a late consolation.

The manager used this match to look at some members of his squad he’d not yet assessed in action. In only his 4th game in charge, and in the knowledge that expectation is high, he needs to learn quickly about the players he’s inherited.

This night at Cherrywood Road will have taught him plenty.
Farnborough v Eastleigh - 02.10


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