Eastleigh cup tied after Silverlake thriller

Gillespie slots one through

After a thrilling second half at the Silverlake Stadium between Eastleigh and Worcester City; a replay is required to settle the cup tie.

Before the game a minutes silence was impeccably observed for long-time Eastleigh fan Jim Bennett who sadly passed away a couple of weeks back.

Reading-bound striker Brett Williams was congratulated on his dream move to the Championship, a leap of four divisions, as he bid farewell to the Eastleigh faithful. The 23-year-old talent bagged four goals in the space of two games prior to today’s match, which left his Eastleigh statistics for the season at 13 starts, 9 substitute appearances and 8 goals. We wish Brett all the very best with his move and career ahead of him.

Leading goal scorer Jamie Slabber was recalled to the starting line-up in place of Williams; meanwhile, Shaun McAuley was handed his first start of the season playing in an attacking midfield role just off Slabber.

Commanding centre back Chris Holland (back), and reliable defender Luke Byles (hamstring), both missed out on today’s tie through injury.

The match got off to a slow start with the only chance inside the first quarter of an hour seeing Slabber flick a header comfortably wide of goal from a Richard Graham free kick in the fifth minute.

David Parton in the Worcester goal had his first save to make with 17 minutes played. Graham’s delivery from a corner kick sat up invitingly for Ross Bottomley, whose header was on target and needed to be kept out by a smart stop from the visiting goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, the visitors worked the ball well with forward Mark Danks creating an opportunity following a cross from the left hand side. Mark Clyde had a goal-bound header deflected for a corner.

City broke the deadlock midway through the half – DANNY GLOVER the scorer. The goal was disappointing from Eastleigh’s point of view, as it was totally self-inflicted. The goal came about following a poor kick from Gareth Barfoot, which in turn saw Bottomley inadvertently play the ball straight to the feet of Mark Danks with a dreadful clearance.

Danks bore down on goal and found himself one on one with Barfoot, but with just the keeper to beat, the striker had the presence of mind to unselfishly square the ball to Glover, who was left with the simplest of finishes into the empty net.

Simon Richman was the first player to be shown a yellow card following a late challenge on Ross Bottomley. It was a foul that the Worcester player would later regret.

Ten minutes before the break, Kevin O’Connor hit a speculative half-volley from distance, but it was at a comfortable height for Barfoot to catch.

One piece of magic from MARK DANKS in the 40th minute, made the score line, afternoon ahead and Eastleigh’s chances of progressing look all the more slim at 0-2 down. The City striker made room for a shot just outside the penalty area and bent the ball into the top right hand corner with an exquisite curling shot. Barfoot could only stand and admire the effort.

Thankfully for the Spitfires, there was something to celebrate in an otherwise disappointing first forty-five when captain TOM JORDAN got his side back in the game in the second minute of first half injury time. Jordan bundled the ball over the line in a goal mouth scramble for the defender’s third goal in four games. It should not be underestimated just how vital the goal proved to be in Eastleigh’s revival as it paved the way for another spirited fight back from Ian Baird’s side.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 1-2 Worcester City.

After the break and buoyed by Jordan’s timely goal to halve the deficit, Eastleigh looked a completely different side in the second half.

Five minutes in, a dangerous corner from Tony Taggart went all the way through a crowd of players in the Worcester six-yard box. Four minutes later, the Spitfires continued with their renewed enthusiasm – Shaun McAuley’s stinging shot from the right proving too hot to handle for the Worcester keeper David Parton. Jamie Slabber followed up with a header, but Parton did just enough to divert the ball wide and alleviate the Eastleigh threat (for the time being at least).

Eastleigh got a deserved equaliser on the hour when SHAUN McAULEY registered his first goal of the season, which coincided with his first start of the campaign. Gareth Barfoot assisted the goal via a route one kick from the Eastleigh goalkeeper that was put in the right area of the pitch, and McAuley did the rest. The pacy winger took the ball into his stride, left his marker in his wake before confidently beating the keeper with an excellent strike across goal and into the far corner.

It was ‘game on’ with the scores level at 2-2 and around half an hour left to play. The visitors came close to regaining the lead however, when Glover should have done better from Danks’ pinpoint cross from the left. The striker was just six yards from goal but couldn’t control his diving header, which sailed wide of the mark.

ANTHONY RIVIERE completed a remarkable comeback for Eastleigh, who had fought back from two goals behind to lead for the first time in the game; when the midfielder hit a strike of the highest quality from the edge of the penalty area to beat the keeper.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes, there was only one side in the game with Eastleigh coming close time and time again. Taggart’s trickery and cross from the right so nearly led to Peter Adeniyi adding a fourth, but the towering midfielder headed just wide.

In the 71st minute, Taggart threaded a superb pass through the Worcester defence to release McAuley on goal. Shaun latched on to the through ball, with his pace once again getting the better of his marker, only this time the goal scorer dragged his effort agonisingly wide of the far post.

Richard Gillespie made his first appearance in six games when coming off the bench fifteen minutes from time. The striker, who has netted seven times this season, has all but recovered from a hand injury (was in strapping today), that had ruled him out of action in recent weeks.

His first contribution saw the ex-Bashley goal machine make an excellent turn 20-yards from goal and fire a low drive past the upright.

With the game coming to a close, SIMON RICHMAN set up an interesting finale as he levelled late in the game to make it 3-3 by poking the ball past Barfoot and into the net. In celebration of his goal, Richman was shown a second yellow card by referee Nick Kinseley, meaning Worcester were left to finish the game with ten men. The opposing fans were furious with the decision, and in fairness they had a point as the sending off seemed harsh on the face of things; but the game continued and could have been won by either side in the final minutes.

Matt Birley forced Barfoot into a first-class save in the 86th minute when his low shot appeared to be heading for the bottom left-hand corner of goal; only for the Eastleigh stopper to dive at full-stretch to his right and a make an important finger-tip save.

There was one last chance, this time for Eastleigh, as Gillespie picked out Richard Graham with a cross from the right. Graham was in a great position, just yards from goal, but could only manage to fire straight at the keeper.

The sides will do battle once more on Monday to earn a place in the last sixteen of the FA Trophy. 7:45pm kick off at St. George’s Lane.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3-3 Worcester City

©Jamie Montigue 2011

Photo: ©Graeme Horrobin