Eastleigh 1-0 Eastbourne Borough
EASTLEIGH v EASTBOURNE BOROUGH
Saturday 2nd March 2013
Blue Square Bet South
Saturday 2nd March 2013
Blue Square Bet South
Match report by Jamie Montigue
Eastleigh stretched their unbeaten run of league games at the Silverlake Stadium to six with a win and a clean sheet against today's visitors Eastbourne Borough.
Chris Zebroski netted his first goal for the club on his second appearance to settle the match by a solitary goal early in the second half. The result saw the Spitfires climb one place to seventh in the Blue Square Bet South at the close of play.
Craig McAllister remained an absentee from the squad for the hosts, whilst defenders Dan Spence and Dean Beckwith both missed out through injury. Damian Scannell was recalled to the starting eleven having been sidelined for the past two games. Mitchell Nelson replaced Spence at right back as the only other change from the side that drew 2-2 with Havant & Waterlooville on Tuesday night.
The opening ten minutes to the game was devoid of any clear cut chances or goalmouth action as both sides looked to find their feet in the opening stages. Eastleigh had a couple of corner kicks but nothing came of them. In the 6th minute Darren Lok was played into the penalty area with a good pass in behind the Eastleigh defence, but Michael Green got back to usher Lok off the ball and clear away from danger.
Tommy Widdrington's Borough weren't afraid to attack and both Lok and fellow forward Gary Hart imposed themselves well on the Eastleigh back line. In the 11th minute a cross from Hart in search of Frankie Raymond (who had a spell with Eastleigh on loan from Reading a couple of seasons back) was cut out well by Mitchell Nelson who headed away from goal at the back post.
A minute later and the visitors really should have been in front. Darren Lok managed to get goal side of Chris Todd to latch on to an awkwardly bouncing ball at the edge of the Eastleigh penalty area. Ross Flitney raced off his line sensing the danger, but Lok showed good footwork to skip past the challenge to present himself with an open goal. A quite incredible miss then followed as Lok somehow hit his shot wide of the unguarded, gaping Eastleigh goal.
Eastleigh briefly threatened in the 14th minute as Michael Green went on a good run down the left before whipping the ball into the box with an accurate delivery. The Eastbourne goalkeeper Danny Potter did just enough under pressure from Chris Zebroski and the visitors were then able to clear their lines.
Flitney was called into action for Eastleigh at the opposite end where the shot-stopper showed quick reactions to make a smart stop from a close-range Gary Hart header.
Eastbourne were then awarded a free kick in a decent position just outside the penalty area to the left of goal, from which Frankie Raymond curled an effort comfortably over the bar.
The Sports' were making things difficult for Richard Hill's men and came close in the 23rd minute from a 25-yard snapshot by Gary Hart that flew just past the post.
Midway through the half, Eastleigh worked an opening following a little lay off in the area by Jai Reason. Chris Zebroski composed himself after beating his marker, before aiming a left-footed shot across the face of goal that wasn't too far away from finding the bottom corner of the net.
On the half hour, an outstanding measured pass by Reason from a deep, central position managed to split the Eastbourne defence in two whilst picking out the run of Zebroski to perfection. The 26-year-old skipped past the challenge of a visiting defender neatly, though couldn't quite find the finish to match as he fired a shot high over the bar having done the hard work.
Eastbourne will feel that they had the better of the play in the first half in spells but the Spitfires finished the half on the up with a couple of chances created.
In the 33rd minute, Zebroski pulled the ball back from the right to find Reason well placed in front of goal. Young defender Alex Wynter, who is on loan from Crystal Palace, stood up well to make a good challenge.
Binns was the next to come close after Glen Southam played the ball over the top down the left to find the winger's run. Binns' pace and short sprint took him past full back Sam Cole where he then hit a half-volley over the top of goal.
Nine minutes before the break, Chris Todd met an Eastleigh corner with a downward header that went wide. Binns threatened again in the 40th minute with a run and shot but Wynter blocked the attempt.
As the half came to a close, Zebroski played the ball into the box from the left which was helped on by Todd. Eastbourne defended well to clear, and stop the ball from reaching Jai Reason in the 6-yard box.
On the whole the first half was relatively even and the visitors were left to rue the missed opportunity by Lok. Eastleigh picked up towards the end of the half but neither goalkeeper were overly worked.
HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Eastbourne Borough
The second half could not have started much better for Eastleigh who came out of the traps extremely quickly and lively, which ultimately played a huge bearing on the outcome of the match.
Almost immediately Damian Scannell made a run down the right and set up a shot for Jai Reason, whose effort was deflected behind for a corner. Eastbourne managed to escape without punishment from this set piece, but Eastleigh quickly won a second corner of the half within the first minute.
CHRIS ZEBROSKI was on hand to pounce and take full advantage of Reason's superb delivery from the corner, which wasn't dealt with, to break the deadlock. Zebroski notched his first goal for Eastleigh by poking the ball over the line from a couple of yards after his initial attempt was kept out.
Whilst the stalemate was ended and Eastleigh had taken the lead, unfortunately the rest of the game was largely uneventful. There were a lot of disruptions with silly free kicks conceded consistently which disrupted the flow of the game. Also there were stoppages because of injuries - which of course couldn't be helped, but didn't do much for the game as a spectacle.
Credit to Eastleigh though for going on to win 'ugly' and being effective in managing the game to pick up the three points and remain strong at the back to ensure a clean sheet was possible.
In the 52nd minute a cross from Scannell found Glen Southam in the box, who continued the attack with an intricate touch to Reason as Eastleigh's good play forced another corner kick. Alex Lacey rose highest to meet the ball from the resulting corner and nodded narrowly wide.
A speculative effort from Reason was deflected behind and shortly after, a Mark Hughes header from a corner was safely caught by Danny Potter in the Eastbourne goal.
Just past an hour of play, Frankie Raymond crossed into the area which then saw an acrobatic effort from Darren Lok turned wide of the post.
Goal scorer Chris Zebroski, who led the line well displaying strong hold up play throughout the match, had a header saved and carried over the line by Potter for a corner. With 69 minutes played, Zebroski was the architect to find Scannell with a clipped pass out to the far side. Scannell cut in past his marker and fired a shot just off target.
Fifteen minutes from time, an indirect free kick for the visitors saw Reason bravely close the ball down to get in the way of Ben Adelsbury's powerful drive, as Raymond rolled the ball into his path.
Both Adam Watkins - on for Binns, and Andy Forbes, who replaced Damian Scannell, had run-outs in the closing stages of the game.
A long throw taken by Michael Green in the 82nd minute was flicked on by the head of Scannell, though nobody was found making a run to the back post to capitalise.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on as Eastleigh continued to hold on to their slender lead. Eastbourne Borough looked to find an equaliser on the counter attack when Lok combined with substitute Nathan Nyalfi. Nyalfi almost nicked the ball past Flitney in the area, which would have been costly, but the Eastleigh keeper scooped up the ball low at the forward's feet to keep his and Eastleigh's clean sheet in firmly in tact.
Alex Lacey continued to impress at the heart of the Eastleigh defence and had a particularly strong game winning a number of headers and challenges at the back for Eastleigh this afternoon.
Green was booked for time wasting deep into injury time before Gary Hart looped a shot over the cross bar just before the full time whistle.
It certainly wasn't the best game of football this season, but Eastleigh deservedly claimed all the points on a good afternoon's work at the Silverlake Stadium. It was the Spitfires seventh win from the last ten league fixtures.
Eastleigh are next in action away at Maidenhead United next Saturday where Richard Hill's side will be looking to build on the strong recent form.
FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-0 Eastbourne Borough