Eastleigh missed out on the opportunity to climb into a playoff position this evening following a defeat at home to Steve King’s high-flying Farnborough.
Despite suffering a setback to playoff hopes, Eastleigh have another chance with one more game in hand still to play, which should they win, would bring the Spitfires level on points with fifth-placed Woking (who occupy the last of the playoff positions).
Before the game Eastleigh manager Ian Baird said that the importance of this game should not be underestimated. His side came into tonight’s encounter on the back of a highly convincing 5-0 away win at Staines Town but tonight’s result demonstrated a lack of consistency in recent weeks from Eastleigh.
In the last five games that Eastleigh have been involved in, four of them have seen five or more goals scored. Eastleigh have lost heavily three times in this spell conceding twelve, whilst winning well twice -scoring four against Woking and five against Staines. With 24 goals for and against in these five games, there has certainly been no shortage of entertainment – however there has been inconsistency demonstrated by scoring lots of goals one game and then conceding just as many the next.
Eastleigh named an unchanged line up to the side that destroyed Staines courtesy of four-goal hero Jamie Slabber at the weekend.
Farnborough started the game well with Bradley Bubb and Dale Binns particularly lively in the opening stages of the game.
The first chance fell to the visitors in the third minute when Bubb played the ball into Paul Booth who shot comfortably wide of the post, but provided an early warning sign for the Eastleigh defence.
After a bright start from Boro, Eastleigh’s Shaun McAuley made a powerful run through the middle of the pitch in the eighth minute, but the winger lacked an end product dragging his attempt harmlessly wide.
A minute later, the hosts looked as though they might break the deadlock when Danny Smith whipped a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box. Richard Graham was ready and waiting for a simple tap in at the far post but was denied by a terrific intervention from Jack King who slid in to make a timely clearance.
It was a frantic opening ten minutes to the game, which continued with Farnborough full back Nic Ciardini bombing forward down the left and skipping past two challenges to get into the Eastleigh penalty area. Ciardini got a shot away from a tight angle that flew wide of the post.
The game became a little scrappy in the middle of the park and the tempo dropped considerably as both sides battled for possession and conceded free kicks to disrupt the flow of the match.
Shaun McAuley was presented with the next chance of the game in the 19th minute, when Richard Graham sent over a high cross from the left to find his target well. McAuley was unmarked in the centre but could only head his effort straight at the goalkeeper, Michael Jordan.
Michael Malcolm had a half chance at the opposite end but scuffed a left foot shot through to Jason Matthews.
Eleven minutes before half time, Farnborough took the lead. MICHAEL MALCOLM produced a tidy finish to slip the ball calmly past Matthews and into the net following a neat flick on by Paul Booth. Eastleigh were undone by a route one move from the visitors as Jordan’s long kick up the field started the attack, which Malcolm rounded off well.
Daryl McMahon then drilled a low shot wide of goal for Boro before better play from the Spitfires in the 40th minute almost resulted in an equaliser. McAuley’s flighted cross from the right flank picked out Tom Jordan at the far post. The Eastleigh skipper hooked the ball towards goal with his left foot only to see his shot come back off the outside of the post.
Farnborough were forced into their first substitution of the game when Dean McDonald replaced the injured Bradley Bubb just three minutes before the break.
The substitute came close moments after entering the field, shooting just wide following strong hold up play from Booth in the build up.
HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-1 Farnborough
At the half way stage you wouldn’t have said that the score was a foregone conclusion by any means, however Eastleigh’s team talk went out of the window as they were hit by a second goal within minutes of the restart.
Just three minutes into the second half, PAUL BOOTH doubled Farnborough’s advantage with a simple finish following a well-worked move. Dean McDonald played the ball into the left channel where McMahon found himself in acres of space and completely unattended. The Farnborough midfielder had so much time and was able to look up and pass low across goal, where the ball evaded centre-back Chris Holland to present the unmarked Booth with a simple finish into an empty net.
Eastleigh made three substitutions throughout the course of the second half with Ian Herring, Richard Graham and Danny Smith being replaced by Anthony Riviere, Richard Gillespie and Peter Adeniyi respectively.
With a two-goal cushion, Farnborough continued to control the game. Dale Binns cut inside from the left and curled a long range strike narrowly over the bar just past the hour mark.
Richard Gillespie was one of few bright sparks/positives in Eastleigh’s performance as his effort and work rate as a second half substitute did not go unnoticed. He came the closest to a goal that Eastleigh had come in the 64th minute when forcing a save out of Jordan from 12-yards out.
In the 70th minute, Paul Booth saw his low shot from distance kept out by Matthews who dived to his right to make the stop.
Sixteen minutes from time, Farnborough completed the scoring with their third goal of the night. PAUL BOOTH extended the visitors’ lead to put the game out of sight for Eastleigh. Peter Adeniyi was caught in possession in his own half of the pitch, where Dean McDonald won the ball before running at the Eastleigh defence. The young forward bore down on goal unchallenged and saw his shot beat Matthews but hit the post. Booth reacted quickest to the loose ball and was on hand for the simplest of tap-ins to score his second goal of the game.
With the game coming to a close, Farnborough almost added a fourth, when McMahon’s neat through ball set McDonald free to his right, who in turn held off his marker before forcing Matthews into a fingertip save (despite the officials awarding a goal kick!).
The last of the action saw Jamie Slabber fire a shot towards goal but failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
It’s on to the next one for Eastleigh who now have an important game against Thurrock at home on Saturday.
FULL TIME: Eastleigh 0-3 Farnborough
Photo: Eastleigh FC
@Jamie Montigue 2011
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