Eastleigh 2-2 Havant & Waterlooville

EASTLEIGH v HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE
Tuesday 26th February 2013

Blue Square Bet South

Match report by Jamie Montigue


Eastleigh tonight met rivals Havant & Waterlooville in what is always a hotly contested Hampshire derby. In the years that have past it has been proven that this is a game that so often provides entertainment and goals; and one that both sets of fans look out for first at the beginning of the season when the fixtures are released.

Four goals were shared in a pulsating second half that included two penalties (one apiece) and Eastleigh having to fight back from a two-goal deficit to earn a share of the spoils. All of this and a fine performance from the visiting goalkeeper Clark Masters, ensured the match more than lived up to expectations on a cold, Tuesday evening.

Richard Hill's side have been in strong form recently but suffered a setback at the weekend with only their first defeat in five games by losing 2-1 at Hayes & Yeading. Home form at the Silverlake Stadium remained unblemished heading into the game with four successive league wins for Eastleigh.

Latest signing Chris Zebroski made his Eastleigh debut this evening having joined the club just yesterday. The 26-year-old has a wealth of football league experience behind him and was most recently with Cheltenham Town.

Both Damian Scannell and Craig McAllister missed out through injury.

The first action of note saw Michael Green make a good run with the ball down the left inside the opening five minutes. It was a run which ended with the full-back's cross striking the top of the Hawks' cross bar before going out of play for a goal kick. Eastleigh looked to set out their stall to attack early in the game.

In the ninth minute Eastleigh threatened to score from an unlikely source as Dean Beckwith had an attempt blocked in the six-yard box. Dale Binns then turned the rebound over the bar as the loose ball came back out to the midfielder.

Only a minute later, Beckwith headed towards goal from an Eastleigh corner kick to find Havant & Waterlooville goalkeeper Clark Masters well positioned to make the save. Eastleigh defender and Luton Town loanee Alex Lacey followed up with an attempt but his close range effort was also kept out.

Michael Green found some space high up the pitch towards the midpoint in the first half, but his cross from the left let him down on this occasion.

The hosts appeared to be in good control of the game with the Hawks unable to get forward or break through the commanding defensive shape of the Spitfires. Eastleigh's formation seemed flexible to change quickly with the ball and without the ball. Beckwith, Lacey and Chris Todd all played in the centre of defence with Green and Dan Spence playing as wing backs either side – pushing forward in possession and making up a five when defending. In front of them captain Glen Southam and Mark Hughes held the midfield together with Dale Binns and Jai Reason floating between midfield and attack to support Zebroski.

On 28, Jai Reason knocked the ball into the path of Zebroski who found the net with a good finish to the left of goal. Unfortunately, the Eastleigh forward was denied a debut goal as the referee suggested that the ball was controlled with the hand before Zebroski shot.

A good bit of pressure from Eastleigh followed with Zebroski and Reason doing well. Reason crossed the ball into the centre where Masters had to be on his guard to punch the ball away. A couple of half chances came Eastleigh's way as Havant struggled to clear their lines. Hughes and Binns tried to get shots away but it eventually came to nothing.

Eleven minutes before the break Michael Green went very close with an excellent effort towards the top corner. The former Port Vale man turned his marker inside-out to open up some space ahead of him where he then fired a great shot towards goal that had to be kept out by a combination of the post and the keeper.

The only time that Lee Bradbury's side could get forward in the first half was from a deep free kick from Chris Arthur that went through a crowd of players and was seen out of play for a goal kick.

With 38 minutes on the clock Dean Beckwith knocked a free kick from the half way line into the penalty area. Alex Lacey nodded the ball down well for Mark Hughes to flick a shot goal wards where Clark Masters stood tall to make a save at the near post.

Committed tracking back from Reason towards the end of the half saw the club's leading goal scorer thwart a counter attack from Havant to hook the ball clear when under pressure from the pacey Sahr Kabba.

Mitchell Nelson was sent on as a 44th minute substitute to replace the unfortunate Dan Spence who took a knock to the shoulder and was unable to continue. Spence was fitted with a sling to his arm later on by physio Andy Cook.

Eastleigh enjoyed the better of the play and perhaps could have been ahead, but it remained goalless at the break with Michael Green's left foot strike the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Havant & Waterlooville

Just four minutes after the restart Eastleigh fell behind as Havant & Waterlooville made a quick and productive start to the second half to open the scoring. SAHR KABBA came alive in the box to stab the ball home with a close range finish, much to the delight of the Hawks' faithful behind the goal. Alex Grant – who spent a short period on loan with Eastleigh this season - won a back post header from a corner and Kabba, like all good strikers, reacted quickest to poach and find the net.

This was just the beginning of an exciting second half which was about to unfold.

Eastleigh looked to respond in the 52nd minute when Chris Zebroski won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Glen Southam rolled the ball short to Jai Reason whose strike was charged down quickly and stifled.

Next, a driving run from Mitchell Nelson on the far side of the pitch saw the right back find Reason in the penalty area. An Eastleigh corner resulted, from which Clark Masters showed safe hands to claim the ball in the air.

A free-flowing move from Eastleigh in the 55th minute culminated in Mark Hughes and Dale Binns combining well before Reason laid the ball back to Binns who in turn had a strike saved by Masters in the Havant & Waterlooville goal.

The Spitfires then had a slight chance to draw level when a chipped ball into the box found Chris Todd unmarked at the back post. The experienced centre-back lost his marker well and proceeded to head the ball into the ground and wide of goal.

Just when Eastleigh were showing signs of getting back into the game, the visitors were awarded a penalty kick and the chance to double their advantage on the scoreboard. Alex Grant was brought down from what looked to be a fairly innocuous challenge from Ross Flitney. The ball was sent in to the Eastleigh box from a corner by Chris Arthur. Grant got to the ball and headed away from goal to the left when Flitney was penalised for bringing Grant down. Flitney was booked and CHRISTIAN NANETTI then stepped up to fire home the penalty for the visitors.

At the time it looked to be a very long way back for Eastleigh to turn the game around. It was certainly going to be a challenge with a two-goal deficit to make up, but this is exactly what transpired as Hill's side responded.

On the hour, Adam Watkins replaced Alex Lacey as the Spitfires tweaked their shape and tactics to a more attacking mentality. Watkins showed a lot of neat touches and sharp turns on the football in the thirty or so minutes that he was given, keeping possession well for the team.

The match could have been put beyond repair for Eastleigh had Havant taken a chance to make it 3-0, at which point there would probably have been no way back for the hosts. Ollie Palmer's shot was blocked in the 62nd minute before Kabba followed up with an effort that went inches past the post.

Eastleigh were handed a lifeline in the 66th minute when referee David Woolford pointed to the spot for the second time in the half, this time in favour of the Spitfires. JAI REASON was tripped by the keeper and went on to calmly tuck away the resulting penalty kick to pull a goal back for Eastleigh.

The goal sparked an onslaught of Eastleigh attacks on the Havant goal for the remainder of the game as Eastleigh set about to get back on level terms.

Zebroski was denied by an astute save from Masters after good play by Nelson. Only a moment later, Glen Southam then wanted a penalty for a hand ball as the skipper fired a shot from the edge of the area - nothing was given this time.

In the 70th minute, sponsors man of the match Dale Binns got to the byline before cutting the ball back across the face of goal from the left. Sensing the danger, Perry Ryan made an important interception to keep the ball away from goal.

MARK HUGHES completed the revival with a headed equaliser for Eastleigh in the 74th minute. The goal came from a corner kick with Hughes meeting the ball well with a looping header that crept in under the cross bar despite the best efforts of defenders on the line.

The goal gave Eastleigh hope that they could go one better and find a winner.

Were it not for Clark Masters' goalkeeping display, the Spitfires could well have gone on to celebrate all three points.

Fifteen minutes from time, a probing move from Eastleigh saw Adam Watkins feed the ball through for Binns, whose low cross in to the six-yard box in search of Zebroski was gathered by Masters.

For the second time in the game Chris Zebroski had a goal ruled out. It was another good finish but didn't count this time for what must have been a very tight offside decision against the striker.

Eastleigh continued to ask all the questions with Mark Hughes meeting another Southam corner only to see his header off target. In the 83rd minute there was a chance for Reason as Binns squared the ball to the edge of the area. Reason's side-foot attempt was kept out by Masters.

For a brief moment Eastleigh could have been made to pay as an under hit back pass from Dean Beckwith so nearly allowed Havant & Waterlooville in on goal. Fortunately, the alert Ross Flitney dealt very well with the threat and made a timely challenge to prevent any damage.

A minute from time, Masters was called into action again to save with his legs to deny Zebroski who controlled well to turn and shoot low with his right foot from 12-yards.

Deep into stoppage time before the final whistle sounded, Masters got in the way of a Glen Southam strike and then Adam Watkins couldn't quite steer the ball home with virtually the last kick of the game as the effort was cleared off the line.

This brought to an end a thoroughly action-packed second half, in a game that could have seen Eastleigh steal all three points despite having to fight back from two-goals behind.

The Spitfires are next in action against Eastbourne Borough at home this coming Saturday.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 2-2 Havamt & Waterlooville

Eastleigh v Havant & Waterlooville - 26.02.13 by Eastleigh FC

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