Eastleigh made it five successive league wins following today’s comfortable win over former player Ashley Vickers’s Dorchester Town side.
The goals just keep flying in for the Spitfires (three more today), who have now scored 28 goals in 10 games with just 10 against.
As well as registering three more points on the board, Eastleigh kept a clean sheet at the Silverlake Stadium and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eleven games. All very positive statistics and achievements for Ian Baird’s side; who will be looking to push on into the playoff positions in the near future and carry their outstanding form forward as the season progresses.
For the first time in many months, Eastleigh were blessed with the rarity of having a clean bill of health. Manager Ian Baird had the luxury of having a full squad of players to choose from and some tough decisions to make for his starting line up. Coming in to the side were Luke Byles and Chris Holland, both back from injury, who took the places of Danny Smith and Ross Bottomley.
The first of the action saw Shaun McAuley run at the heart of the Dorchester defence before firing a shot comfortably wide of goal from just outside the penalty area.
An otherwise frustrating opening to the game, with both sides cancelling each other out, came to life with just over fifteen minutes played as Eastleigh broke the deadlock. The opening goal of the game came via a trademark towering header from captain TOM JORDAN who met Richard Graham’s corner perfectly to pick out the top corner of Regan Coward’s goal. It was Jordan’s fourth goal in the space of six games, his fifth of the season and pulls him level with fellow centre-back Chris Holland in their personal duel for highest scoring defender!
Eastleigh continued to be a real threat and menace at set pieces with the physical presence of Jordan, Holland and Jamie Slabber to name but three players over the height of six foot all causing trouble for the opposition in the penalty area.
The Spitfires had the ball in the back of the net for a second time when Chris Holland rose at the back post to meet Tony Taggart’s in-swinging corner in the 23rd minute. The referee adjudged Holland to have fouled his marker in the process of beating the keeper with his header; and the goal was consequently disallowed.
It didn’t take long at all for Eastleigh to double their advantage however, as just a minute later RICHARD GRAHAM was celebrating putting the host’s two goals to the good. The winger found the back of the net in true style with what is arguably the best goal of the season at home so far. Graham cut in from the left flank and bent an unstoppable shot into the far corner with his right foot – a stunning strike.
Further good pressure from Eastleigh saw another dangerous corner from Taggart headed over the cross bar by Mark Jermyn.
The Magpies were kept at bay for the majority of the game with Jordan and Holland keeping the physically imposing Ryan Moss and Rico Wilson under control throughout, ably supported by the ever-reliable Warren Goodhind and Luke Byles who completed the solid back-four.
Chris Flood who had a very brief stint at Eastleigh and is currently on loan with Dorchester from Crawley Town, had a shot that was deflected for a corner midway through the half – but other than that, Gareth Barfoot was completely untroubled.
Dorchester did force successive corners towards the end of the first half but Eastleigh stood firm and should have made it 3-0 in the 40th minute. A deep cross from the impressive Richard Graham presented Taggart with a real chance for Eastleigh, but the winger failed to capitalise on a free header from 6-yards and nodded over the bar with the goal gaping.
On the stroke of half time, Shaun McAuley turned his marker inside out on the right hand side, before coming infield, getting into the penalty area and seeing his chipped shot saved by Coward.
HALF TIME: Eastleigh 2-0 Dorchester Town
Dorchester began the second half by winning a corner. The ball found its way to Gary Bowles at the far post who fired the ball across the face of the Eastleigh goal.
Three minutes later, Eastleigh’s first attacking play in the second half saw a Tony Taggart volley cushioned down by Tom Jordan in the Dorchester penalty area. The knock down from the Eastleigh skipper was intended for Jamie Slabber but the ball bounced around in the six-yard box eventually finding its way back to Taggart; who was thwarted by a good save from the goalkeeper.
In the 50th minute, the lively Richard Graham, who went on to deservedly claim the sponsors man of the match award, had a strong claim for a penalty turned down by the referee as his cross appeared to strike the arm of a Dorchester defender.
Ashley Vickers’s saw his side come close to reducing the arrears in quick succession. First Nathan Walker saw his header turned around the post by Gareth Barfoot in the Eastleigh goal in the 56th minute. Then the visitors came even closer from the resulting corner kick only for a glaring miss from defender Kyle Critchell’s header from a couple of yards.
Just past the hour mark, Eastleigh made their first substitution of the afternoon with Richard Gillespie replacing the in-form Shaun McAuley.
Eastleigh continued to press and push for a third goal, which would have all but sealed victory. Taggart tried his luck from 30 yards catching the ball on the volley following a punch clear from Dorchester’s keeper Regan Coward, and saw his effort fly wide of the target.
Ryan Moss was denied by a first-class save from Barfoot at the opposite end as time wore on. Rico Wilson had done well in his approach play to get into a dangerous position in behind the Eastleigh defence, forcing a challenge to prevent a shot at goal. In stopping Wilson from getting a shot away, the ball instead landed invitingly at the feet of Moss who had a glorious opportunity to score. The former Bashley forward was kept out by a terrific stop from Barfoot, who had spread himself well to instinctively react by saving with his legs.
Chris Holland then brought out the best in Regan Coward with a powerful header in the 75th minute. The Eastleigh centre-back tested the Dorchester goalkeeper, who had to dive at full stretch to keep the effort out, before shortly having to be substituted due to his back problem.
His replacement Ross Bottomley had a cheeky back-heeled attempt cleared off the goal line just moments after coming off the bench.
Graham and Gillespie came close in the final minutes of the game, with Gillespie firing over the bar from outside the box with his left foot four minutes from time.
With what was the final kick of the game in the third minute of stoppage time, JAMIE SLABBER added a third goal for Eastleigh to seal another comfortable victory for the Spitfires. Richard Gillespie assisted the goal well providing an unselfish cross from the left to provide Slabber with the simplest of finishes to slide home his 8th league goal of the season.
Eastleigh remain in eighth place in the Blue Square Bet South league table, but are just one point outside the play-off positions with games in hand on promotion rivals.
FULL TIME: Eastleigh 3-0 Dorchester Town
See Graeme Horobin’s Match photos here