Eastleigh came off second best in this Hampshire derby against Basingstoke Town as Frank Gray’s visitors left the Silverlake Stadium with all three points, courtesy of a tenth minute goal from their captain Ross Adams.
Ian Baird was dealt with a few selection problems ahead of the game with Luke Byles missing through illness and midfielder Danny Smith unavailable owing to suspension. The Spitfires brought in Warren Goodhind, Anthony Riviere and loan-signing Tony Taggart into the starting line up following the winger’s return to the club on a two-month loan from Newport County.
The Spitfires were the first to threaten with Richard Gillespie playing a ball through to Slabber in the 6th minute. Eastleigh’s top goal scorer had done well in his movement off the ball but saw his tame shot across goal comfortably saved by goalkeeper Chris Tardif.
Basingstoke came even closer two minutes later when Matt Warner whipped in a dangerous, curling free kick into the Eastleigh penalty area, which was headed narrowly over the bar by David Pratt.
With just ten minutes played, Basingstoke found themselves in front as they took the lead from a corner kick. Matt Pattison had a header kept out on the goal line initially but the corner wreaked havoc in the Eastleigh penalty area with the Spitfires defence failing to deal with the set piece. ROSS ADAMS reacted quickest to the loose ball in front of goal and found the back of the net from close range.
Anthony Riviere and Richard Graham combined for the hosts soon after the goal, with the latter chipping a cross into the middle only for Gillespie to head wide of the post.
In the 13th minute, Riviere had to make a timely challenge on Jide Ogunbote who had come storming into the box to meet a cross from the left; only to be prevented by an excellent tackle from Riviere at the pivotal moment.
A minute later, Gareth Barfoot had to be alert to save low down at his near post where he produced a smart stop to prevent Greg Draper’s shot from creeping into the bottom corner.
Eastleigh found it difficult in front of goal in the first half and were restricted to a fleeting half chance every now and again. Jamie Slabber hit a half volley from the edge of the penalty area following a neat flick on by Gillespie, but the striker dragged his shot wide of goal.
Unfortunately, the referee did little to help the game flow and often blew up for innocuous challenges throughout the game. It was the same for both sides it could be argued, but inconsistent when it came to showing yellow cards as Eastleigh were about to find out. Will Hendry and Anthony Riviere were both cautioned despite winning the ball, meanwhile similar tackles from the opposition often didn’t even result in a talking-to.
In the 22nd minute Gareth Barfoot played the role of ‘sweeper keeper’ when he dashed off his line to make a perfect sliding challenge and clearance to halt Greg Draper in his tracks. The Basingstoke striker had broken the offside trap and was in on goal were it not for Barfoot’s intervention.
The visitors were the better side in a poor game of football and looked to put Eastleigh under further pressure in search of a second goal midway through the half. A free kick from the right had to be headed over his own cross bar by Eastleigh centre back Chris Holland.
Warren Goodhind was on the receiving end of a couple of nasty facial injuries today, the first of which left the defender in need of lengthy treatment from physio Andy Cook. Goodhind was patched up and had a bandage wrapped around his head to cover the wound, resulting in Eastleigh briefly playing with ten men towards the end of the half.
Goodhind bravely played on and was arguably the strongest performer for Eastleigh. Warren didn’t shy away from heading the ball on numerous occasions despite the head injury.
In first half stoppage time, Eastleigh claimed for hand ball when Anthony Riviere’s cross was charged down in the penalty area. Instead a corner was given and from it Tom Jordan failed to control his header from Taggart’s delivery.
Deep into injury time, Eastleigh’s best spell of the half saw another Taggart corner punched away, but only as far as Holland, who blazed harmlessly high and wide.
Half Time: Eastleigh 0-1 Basingstoke Town
Early in the second half, Richard Graham won an Eastleigh corner kick after a good passing sequence from Eastleigh. Chris Tardif came under threat to claim the ball comfortably but managed to punch the ball away from danger.
In the 51st minute, Matt Pattison spotted Gareth Barfoot a good 15 yards off his goal line and attempted the spectacular with a 50-yard free kick. The effort may well have caught the keeper out had it have been more accurate.
Three minutes later, Basingstoke were awarded a free kick 25-30 yards from goal in a central position. Pattison had a great opportunity to test the Eastleigh keeper but squandered his chance by shooting clean over the bar.
Past the hour mark, Eastleigh’s first real attempt at goal came about when Graham’s free kick came back out as far as Will Hendry. The midfielder let the ball drop before firing a powerful strike goal-wards that wasn’t all that far away.
Eastleigh made a double substitution in the 66th minute when Baird opted to change his strike force by replacing Jamie Slabber and Richard Gillespie with Jamie Brown and Brett Williams.
The Spitfires did improve in the latter stages of the game as they went in search of rescuing a point.
Chris Holland headed over the top of goal in the 70th minute before Williams came closer still from an acute angle. Tony Taggart on his welcome return to Eastleigh grew in confidence as the game wore on and began to be at the heart of a lot of attacking moves. It was the former Havant & Waterlooville winger’s threaded pass after a driving run from midfield that had created a chance for Eastleigh. Williams hit the ball sweetly from the right of the penalty area but was denied by Tardif, who had done well to react to the powerful shot by pushing the ball away.
Eleven minutes from time it was increasingly looking as if it wasn’t going to be Eastleigh’s day. Taggart again worked his magic down the right before playing an excellent cross into the six-yard box. Will Hendry found some space to meet the pinpoint delivery and had a glancing header extremely well-saved by Tardif at point blank range to keep his clean sheet in tact.
Tardif was on hand again to deny Taggart this time, who had wriggled his way in-field from the right to work space for the shot only to shoot straight at the keeper without the necessary power.
The remainder of the game passed with little incident and Eastleigh simply couldn’t find a way through despite having four additional minutes added on for stoppages.
In the 87th minute Richard Graham went down in the box and on the face of it was probably deserving of a yellow card for going down too easily.
Anthony Riviere was announced as the Sponsors man of the match on his first full game since a long injury lay-off coupled with Taggart’s return were two positives from the game, but it was of little consolation to the result.
Full Time: Eastleigh 0-1 Basingstoke Town.
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