Strevens’ last minute goal earns Eastleigh victory at home to Gateshead

Richard Hill’s Spitfires bounced back from their FA Cup exit and earned all three points after losing a two goal lead at home to Gateshead today as it finished 3-2 with late drama. A goal in both halves for Eastleigh looked to be enough but the visitors fought back however second half substitute Ben Strevens scored a last minute goal to earn a vital victory in the Vanarama National League. It took just five minutes before Eastleigh took the lead as Ben Williamson slotted a fine shot past Gateshead keeper Dan Hanford. The visitors however nearly bounced back but won a corner which came to nothing. In what was an unlucky two seconds of play, Danny Hollands slid in to hit the post as Williamson hit the crossbar with the rebound. Moments later, an unmarked Wes York was allowed to have a close range shot behind the Eastleigh defence but Ross Flitney done well to save for The Spitfires. Scott Barrow then had a speculative effort just going above the crossbar for the visitors. Eastleigh won a free kick after 20 minutes as the rain began to bucket down and Paul McCallum timed a perfect run but the end product bounced off the ground and went over the bar. Gary McSheffrey was started to put in some menacing balls in for Eastleigh and Ayo Obileye missed a golden chance from a corner. Luke Hannant fired a shot at Flitney after the half hour mark despite the game beginning to quiet down. York then won a free kick for the visitors as Michael Green brought him down on the right wing but it resulted in nothing. There wasn’t many clear cut chances in the remaining minutes of the half as it finished 1-0 Eastleigh going into the break. 

After the break, The Spitfires began where they left and Callum Howe had a long range effort fly over the net. McSheffrey then had a close range effort saved as Eastleigh looked to press on for another. Gateshead was awarded a corner where it looked to have been a goal kick and that decision was nearly costly as Fraser Kerr headed just wide. McSheffrey tried a 40 yard plus strike in the hour mark but it went straight into Hanford’s arms. Moments later, however, James Constable doubled Eastleigh’s lead as the striker produced a sweet strike to the top right corner. Gateshead looked to half that deficit straight away as Jordan Preston’s shot was blocked despite calls for handball. The resulting corner saw Theo Vassell have an audacious effort but it came to nothing. Paul McCallum was replaced by Craig McAllister as the striker had a rather quiet game. Preston then hit the side netting for Gateshead as the visitors didn’t look like giving up. McSheffrey was then replaced by Mark Yeates to add further attacking options for Eastleigh. Preston was clearly Gateshead’s most attacking player and when second half substitute Jordan Burrow’s shot got parred away, Preston followed up on the rebound to half the deficit with 15 minutes to go. Gateshead were beginning to press for that equaliser and won a corner five minutes later however Flitney dealt with Kerr’s header. First half goalscorer Williamson then got replaced by experienced midfielder  Strevens to try and secure that one goal lead. However, disaster struck for Eastleigh as Gateshead equalised with Vassell scored into an empty net after some defensive confusion. It looked like Eastleigh had lost the victory, however, Strevens popped up deep into stoppage time to earn all three points for Eastleigh. The Spitfires take on Solihull Moors at home on Tuesday night.