Eastleigh 0 Leyton Orient 0
Vanarama National League
Saturday 17th March
Report by Scott Lanza
The O’s went into this game winless from their last four, while their hosts had also seen wins dry up; a 4-3 win over Hartlepool United in January being the last time they had taken all the points, with the following five games resulting in two draws against three loses. Freezing temperatures around the Silverlake Stadium were not warmed up by the action on the pitch, which was insipid at times with little in way of goalmouth action. However the O’s were able to count Lady Luck as being on their side as Eastleigh had two very good penalty shouts turned down by the Referee in the opening ten minutes. The first incident came in the 10th minute when Mark Yeates was felled in the box. Mr Johnson turned away the appeals; then two minutes later he did so again after Joe Widdowson appeared to have handled in the box.
After that lucky escape the O’s then didn’t really look in danger from Eastleigh’s frontline, but at the same time Graham Stack and his defence were not being too unduly tested either. It took until the 16th minute before the O’s mounted a serious attack, with a Jobi McAnuff free kick just missing the target and then the same player delivered a corner which fell to Craig Clay who had two attempts at rifling off a shot but on both occasions found his efforts blocked by the Eastleigh defence.
Ben Williamson dragged a shot wide and then he picked out Yeates with a delightful pass in the 24th minute which also ended up being placed wide. Craig Clay literally put his body on the line to block a powerful Ayo Obileye drive; he was limping for a few minutes afterwards and the Spitfires kept the pressure on by winning a corner just before the half hour mark that required George Elokobi to head clear.
Then in the 36th minute the O’s had the best chance of the game when a McAnuff free kick bent round the wall, left Stack standing, but unfortunately for the O’s crashed against the underside of the cross bar, bounced on the wrong side of the line and was hastily cleared by the Eastleigh defence. The O’s were unable to build on that and the half ended with Eastleigh carving out two opportunities with a deep cross from Yeates sailing across Brill’s goal before drifting away and then Williamson fired a shot into the side-netting.
There had been little goalmouth action in the first half but within seconds of the re-start the hosts were testing Brill who had to dive at the foot of his right post to palm away Williamson’s low header. And soon afterwards Yeates found himself in space but poked his effort past Brill’s left hand post.
Josh Koroma replaced McAnuff in the 52nd minute and his first involvement in the game saw him turn his marker and put in a cross that was hooked away for a throw-in. Koroma then showed skill and pace to get past the left back and deliver a cross to Harrold, whose shot at goal was blocked by Sam Togwell. Stock wasn’t being tested though and his only piece of work came just on the hour when Dan Holman bore down on goal with his shot being charged down by the Spitfires custodian.
A Yeates free kick was met by the head of Reda Johnson which Brill tipped away. The resulting corner was swung-in by Yeates, reaching Williamson who drilled a shot that Brill blocked and Coulson reacted quickly to sweep the ball out of the O’s box.
Macauley Bonne started on the subs bench, but was introduced midway through the half and almost found a way through when he latched onto a long ball but Johnson put in a challenge to end that particular manoeuvre and then in the 75th minute another high ball aimed at Bonne required Stack to charge out of his box to hook the ball clear. Koroma then showed some good skill to bring a ball down, cut inside and then lay off to Bonne whose shot took a deflection and won the O’s a corner.
At the other end and Eastleigh substitute Chris Zebroski found himself fed a decent ball but his run into the O’s box was ended by Elokobi who harassed and disposed the Spitfires frontman before clearing. However there was no challenge put on Williamson who was able to have far too much time to get a ball under his control but luckily for the O’s he could only canon his shot high and wide of Brill’s goal.
A Koroma corner was punched clear by Stack, who like Brill had not had a terribly busy afternoon and just like his O’s counterpart when he was called upon showed safe hands. However he merely had to stand and watch a Koroma free kick as the ball ended up in the seats behind his goal and then in stoppage time a Brophy cross was headed off target by Bonne.
In the end it certainly won’t be a game that the fans will remember – beyond perhaps how cold and blustery it was. But with the O’s on a quest to gain enough points to ensure mathematical safety means that there can be something gained from this away point. The O’s are at home to Woking next Saturday, the cheap admission price certainly offers value for money and if that also comes with a win then it could be enough to finally ensure the O’s don’t have a nervy end of the season finale.
Eastleigh: Graham Stack, Gavin Hoyte, Sam Togwell (Capt), Reda Johnson, Sam Wood, Paul McCallum (Chris Zebroski 78’), Mark Yeates, Ayo Obileye, Andrew Boyce, Cavagn Miley (Sam Matthews 68’), Ben Williamson.
Leyton Orient: Dean Brill, Joe Widdowson, George Elokobi, Jobi McAnuff (Capt)(Josh Koroma 52’), Josh Coulson, James Brophy, Craig Clay, Matt Harrold, Dan Holman (Macauley Bonne 60’), Ebou Adams, Sam Ling.