Chasetown caused another FA Trophy upset as their incredible run in the competition continued at the expense of Eastleigh. The Scholars, who play a tier below their Blue Square Bet South opponents, dumped Ian Baird’s Spitfires out of the cup; much to the delight of their terrific away support.
Over 250 Chasetown fans made the long trip to the Silverlake Stadium to see their side put in a strong performance. Eastleigh meanwhile missed out on the opportunity to reach the Quarter Finals and £7,000 prize money. The third round proper is the furthest Eastleigh have progressed in the FA Trophy but after today’s result, the Spitfires can now concentrate on their promotion push in the league.
Eastleigh won an early corner inside the first minute, from which the first effort of the game saw Tony Taggart blaze a shot high and wide of goal as the ball came back out to him.
The opening exchanges in the tie saw both sides battling for possession and effectively cancelling each other out. Eastleigh’s Danny Smith, (there were two on the pitch today as Chasetown’s centre forward shares the same name), took a knock in the opening minutes but was able to continue.
Ross Bottomley had a few nervy moments at right back as Chasetown looked to attack with pace down the flanks.
In the ninth minute, a long throw from the right was held up neatly in the six-yard box by Jamie Slabber who played the ball to his left for Richard Graham. The Eastleigh winger found himself crowded out when looking to get a shot away.
The visitors continued to show their defensive resilience as the Spitfires’ Danny Smith had two shots blocked at the edge of the penalty area in the 21st minute.
Ryan Price, Chasetown’s goalkeeper, had a fine afternoon between the sticks as he confidently claimed the ball from an in-swinging Taggart corner kick. The keeper was then in the right place to make a comfortable save from a Slabber header, which lacked the necessary power.
Showing great desire and determination, Chasetown managed by Charlie Blakemore, kept plugging away and produced a positive piece of football when Jimmy Turner’s dangerous cross from the right was nodded narrowly wide by Gary Hay.
With just over half an hour played, Eastleigh found themselves a goal behind. A neat one-two exchange on the far side saw Chasetown get in behind the defence where they found themselves in acres of space. RICHARD DAVIES raced through to round Jason Matthews and finish well from a tight angle into the empty net.
The goal brought the game to life as the Spitfires came within inches of an instant reply. Tony Taggart let fly with a stunning 25-yard shot, but with the goalkeeper beaten his effort crashed against the post. In a frantic few minutes, Taggart was denied again. This time the Eastleigh winger had a fine free kick tipped over the cross bar by Price, with the ball heading for the top corner of goal.
An inspired performance from the Chasetown stopper saw several efforts from the hosts rebuffed as Eastleigh looked to finish the half by finding an equaliser.
Shaun McAuley had a shot blocked by the keeper’s legs from close range in the 37th minute, before Tom Jordan had two headers sail off target.
Eastleigh’s best move of the half came two minutes before the break when Peter Adeniyi rolled the ball into the feet of Slabber who got the ball onto his left foot before angling a shot towards the bottom left hand corner of goal. The striker’s effort was matched by an even better save as Price turned the ball around the post at full stretch.
HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-1 Chasetown
A goal down at the break, there was room for improvement for Eastleigh at the half way stage. On the contrary, Chasetown will have been extremely pleased with their first forty-five minutes of work.
Ian Baird made his first substitution at the start of the second half with Luke Byles coming on to replace Ross Bottomley, who unfortunately didn’t have the best of games. Warren Goodhind switched to right back to accommodate Byles at left back.
Barely a few minutes had been played when Eastleigh found the equalising goal they were searching for. JAMIE SLABBER powered home a header into the top corner as the Spitfires’ top goalscorer connected to devastating effect with Shaun McAuley’s pinpoint cross from the by-line.
Eastleigh continued their strong start to the second half, when Shaun McAuley’s run and low shot was superbly saved by Ryan Price. The driven effort from outside the area was tipped around the post as the ball looked to be creeping towards the bottom corner of goal. Bizarrely, the referee’s assistant awarded a goal kick despite the terrific save, which should have meant an Eastleigh corner kick.
Four minutes before the hour mark, Jason Matthews was called into action as he had to cope with Gary Hay’s delicate chip, standing tall to make an important save.
In the next attack of the game, Chasetown’s Danny Smith was presented with an opportunity to find the target but found his match in Matthews who made a save at the striker’s feet to keep the scores level.
It wasn’t for long however, as from the resulting corner, the visitors scrambled the ball home at the back post with DANNY SMITH applying the finishing touch to restore the Scholars’ lead.
Chasetown’s work rate must be praised for the way they competed for every ball and showed a strong determination throughout the match. They were rewarded with a third goal seventeen minutes from time, which effectively killed the game off. BEN JEVONS, managed to beat the Eastleigh offside trap to finish clinically from close range to turn home a cross from the right hand side.
Eastleigh certainly had their work cut out if they were to salvage anything from the tie at this late stage, finding themselves two goals behind. It was about to get much worse for the Spitfires when Luke Byles was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Richard Davies.
3-1 down and now a man down, Eastleigh were certainly up against it. Ian Baird made two final changes with strikers Richard Gillespie and Justin Bennett replacing McAuley and Slabber. It was a welcome return to the Silverlake Stadium for Bennett, who recently returned to the club on loan from Gosport Borough.
Ramone Stevens was making the most of the space left by the void of Byles as he enjoyed plenty of possession attacking the space in the vacant left back area. The winger kept the width well to stretch the game and continued to keep Chasetown on the front foot with his pace. In the 86th minute, Stevens raced clear of the three-man Eastleigh defence but lifted his shot over the bar.
The last of the action saw an acrobatic volley from Richard Gillespie saved by Price before Chasetown saw out the remaining four minutes of added time to seal a memorable cup victory.
FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-3 Chasetown
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