Spitfires produce second half come back for Crawley draw

Youngster Tony Lee scores a late equaliser for Eastleigh

Youngster Tony Lee scores a late equaliser for Eastleigh (photo by Tony Smith)

Richard Hill’s Spitfires pulled off a convincing second half come back as his side claimed a draw at home to League One side Crawley Town in a friendly.

Gavin Tomlin put Crawley in front early on before Jai Reason equalised shortly after.

Further goals for the visitors saw Josh Simpson and Tomlin again, both netting for Crawley before the break.

Hill’s men however dug deep as striker Ben Wright and academy graduate Tony Lee made sure that both sides came away with the draw.

Crawley manager John Gregory, who once managed Wycome Wonderers and QPR with Hill as his number two, fielded a strong side including Sonny Bradley and Izale McLeod to name a few experienced football league players.

Hill handed Australian trialist Patrick Antelmi, who recently got released by Wigan Athletic,  a run out and left former Crawley Town striker and Eastleigh assistant manger, Craig McAllister, on the bench as winger Stuart Fleetwood did not feature.

Eastleigh started off the brighter of the two sides as right back Dan Spence linked up well with Jai Reason but the former Hayes & Yeading defender ran it out of play for a goal kick.

Odubade put in a dangerous low cross after making a powerful run down the right wing only for a Crawley defender to put striker Ben Wright off resulting in a goal kick.

A series of Eastleigh corners showed great pressure for the hosts however it was the visitors that took the lead after just over ten minutes played.
McLeod out-paced defender Dean Beckwith on the right wing to put in a dangerous low cross for Gavin Tomlin to tap in.
After a quick drinks break after the goal,  Hill’s men  done well to pile on the pressure once again.

Antelmi done brilliantly to take it past Crawley right back Lanre Oyebanjo, and the former Leeds United youngster put in a low cross for Ben Strevens  only for Raphael Spiegel to pull off an even better save.

Moments later, Crawley done well the other end as Gwion Edwards’ dangerous cross resulted in Will Evans to put it behind for a corner however the resulting corner came to nothing.

Midway through the first half and Eastleigh scored a deserving equaliser.

Jai Reason celebrates an equaliser with his team mates

Jai Reason celebrates an equaliser with his team mates (photo by Tony Smith)

Wright done well down the left wing to find attacking midfielder Reason who done brilliantly to hook a left foot effort in to the back of the net – hitting the crossbar on in it’s way in.
McLeod had a good chance to regain Crawley’s lead ten minutes before the break however his low strike proved no worries for Eastleigh keeper Ross Flitney.

The League One side was soon back in front however as Josh Simpson fired a shot just outside the box that Flitney spilt for Lewis Young to follow up.

And it was not long before Crawley extended their lead to two goals and started to show their class.

Josh Simpson hit a powerful shot at Flitney and the former Gillingham keeper could only punch away in to the path of Gavin Tomlin who hit a sweet half-volley that found the back of the net.

Wright shot from distance straight after the kick off but the striker could not find the target and Hill’s team went in the break losing by a two goal deficit. 

Eastleigh 1-3 Crawley Town HT

Hill made only made one change at half time bringing off Antelmi for McAllister.

An early Eastleigh second half shot by striker Jack Midson proved no scare for Spiegel however Jimmy Smith counter attacked at the other end resulting in Flitney to pull off a great save.

A good counter attack from the visitors saw Lewis Young receive the ball in a dangerous area however Strevens was on hand to put in a last ditch challenge.

The Spitfires had a penalty shout, a quarter of an hour in the game, as a Reason free kick found Wright who was appeared to have his shirt pulled in the box however referee Andy Davies awarded the free kick the other way.

Just past the hour mark and the hosts reduced the goal deficit to just one as striker Ben Wright tried his luck from the edge of 
the area and sent a powerful low strike into the bottom left corner.

Ben Wright gets one back for Eastleigh (photo by Tony Smith)

Ben Wright gets one back for Eastleigh (photo by Tony Smith)

Crawley had a chance to regain their two goal lead just ten minutes later as a series of corners resulted in Joe Walsh heading wide.
Another Crawley chance, 15 minutes to go, saw McLeod shoot from distance which proved to be no worries for keeper Flitney.

Hill gave young goalkeeper Lewis Noice a chance behind the sticks in the closing minutes as Academy graduates Tony Lee, Jack Smith and Harrison Weeks.

And it was Lee that earned the Spitfires a well earned equaliser against the football league side in the closing stages of the match.

The youngster climbed over the Crawley defence and placed a powerful right-footed looping shot past Spiegel – something manager Hill will be thinking about coming in the first game of the season.

Hill’s men continued to press for a winner however the Crawley defence made sure of at least a draw.

Eastleigh 3-3 Crawley Town FT

Eastleigh starting 11: Ross Flitney (Lewis Noice), Dan Spence (Chris Todd), Dean Beackwith (Jack Smith), Yemi Odubade (Tony Lee) Jai Reason, Jack Midson (Jamie Collins), Ben Strevens (Harrison Weeks) Will Evans, Patrick Antelmi (Craig McAllister) Ben Wright (James Constable)