Spitfires shot down as City eye play-offs
Eastleigh 0 St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 12) James Ronayne at the Silverlake Stadium A SOLID defensive display. A solitary Drew Roberts goal. Sound familiar? For the second successive away trip St Albans City returned to Clarence Park with all three p
St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 12)
James Ronayne at the Silverlake Stadium
A SOLID defensive display. A solitary Drew Roberts goal. Sound familiar? For the second successive away trip St Albans City returned to Clarence Park with all three points thanks to a predatory strike from their leading scorer.
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Roberts pounced on Luke Wilkinson's weak header before rounding debutant goalkeeper Billy Lumley and rolling the ball into the net after just 12 minutes and it proved to be enough for the win.
Eastleigh, smarting after an 8-2 defeat to Thurrock in their last home match, looked short on confidence and ran out of ideas with Paul Bastock forced into only one real save of note.
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Further budget cuts stretched Steve Castle's squad to the extreme with only three substitutes named. Remarkably James Quilter played despite many fearing he would be set for a spell on the sidelines after the nasty injury he picked up on Tuesday night.
Gary Cohen was absent as he was training to become a paramedic so James Lindie started up front but there was a massive boost for City with the news that influential centre half Adam Everitt was fit to play.
The hosts started bright enough, on a very sandy pitch, with Shaun McAuley looking lively on Eastleigh's right. The Spitfires winger forced Everitt to clear behind for a corner which Brett Poate whipped in and Bastock had to push over the bar.
From that corner, Jake Beecroft launched a City counterattack slipping in Roberts on the left. The striker cut back onto his right foot but his shot was blocked by the Eastleigh defence.
Roberts wasn't too be denied a second time however. A long ball forward wasn't dealt with by Luke Wilkinson whose poor header didn't reach goalkeeper Lumley, allowing Roberts to nip in round the goalkeeper and roll the ball into the empty net.
An Eastleigh corner from the right found skipper Tom Jordan but he headed well over the bar from close range. It was to be Jordan's last involvement in the game with the former Havant man stretchered off with a gashed leg after a collision with Roberts on the touchline.
Roberts was Saints' most likely source of goals and he forced Lumley into action just after half hour mark though the shot was straight down the 'keeper's throat.
At the other end the Spitfires called Bastock into his only real save of the game. The host's big striker, Tony Bottomley, teed up Danny Smith on the edge of the box who fired low but Bastock pushed out the first effort and pounced on the loose ball before the Eastleigh strikers could react.
The home side had the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute when Poate's corner came to Wilkinson who headed home but referee Antony Coggins disallowed the goal for a foul.
Coggins was on the end of some harsh criticism from the home fans but controlled the game well and was one of the better referees seen this season.
Taggart cut in from his wing and fired high and wide while a good passage of play from City just fell at the final hurdle as Rob Magwood's pass was just over hit for Chris Sullivan.
Eastleigh were forced into a second sub when Andy Forbes took a knock five minutes into the second half and just a minute after that City should have gone 2-0 up.
Roberts beat the offside trap and bore down on goal. Lumley thwarted the City striker but the loose ball fell to Lindie but his shot was blocked by Wilkinson.
Eastleigh looked to have run out of ideas and the City defence looked comfortable. A dangerous cross from McAuley had to be dealt with by Bastock at his near post and Anthony Riviere fired into the car park from a short free kick but that was about as close as the Spitfires came.
Riviere didn't last the full 90 minutes injuring himself while fouling Pete Smith. To make matters worse for the Eastleigh midfielder he was booked for his efforts before being replaced by Ian Oliver.
Lindie and Sullivan combined on the edge of the Eastleigh box but the home defence got in a block before Sullivan could get his shot away.
As the game neared its climax, City enjoyed a spell of pressure around the Eastleigh area. Roberts had a shot blocked from the edge of the area and only a good save from Lumley low down stopped Sullivan from opening his City account.
Referee Coggins bought a close to the game with a delighted Saints squad applauding their travelling support and leaving the pitch with another well deserved three points.
Eastleigh: Lumley; Goodhind, Jordan (Cook 31), Wilkinson, Poate; Smith, Riviere (Oliver 67), Taggart, McAuley; Forbes (Roache 50), Bottomley.
Subs: Matthews, Butler.
St Albans City: Bastock; Quilter, Everitt, Frater, Smith; Beecroft, Magwood, Fisher, Sullivan; Lindie, Roberts.
Subs: Peters, Wheeler, Lokando.
Ref: Antony Coggins (Bicester)
Man of the Match: Ryan Frater.