Low-key end to Eastleigh's great run

CHRIS TODD

CHRIS TODD

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

EASTLEIGH’S fabulous four-match winning streak was ended in a flat atmosphere at Woking.

The Kingfield Stadium, which regularly hosts crowds of one to two thousand for Woking home games, is a quieter place when lodgers Hayes & Yeading take centre stage.

Just 159 fans clicked through the turnstiles on Saturday and Eastleigh boss Richard Hill felt the low-key mood was not conducive to his side playing at their usual high tempo.

He said: “Hayes had a couple of chances and scored both of them and we had enough chances to win three games and scored one.

“We hit the bar three times and we didn’t play badly, but we were a bit flat because there was no tempo to the game.

“Woking have got a nice ground that’s geared up for a good atmosphere and I can remember going there during my Stevenage days when there 3,000 there.

“But there’s no atmosphere for Hayes games. There were 150 people rattling around in a ground of that size and I’d imagine 50 per cent of them were our fans.

“We needed to put our own tempo into the game, but we didn’t do that, especially in the first half.” Even so, the first 45 minutes were awash with Eastleigh chances – Craig McAllister going closest in the fifth minute when he hit the woodwork from Dale Binns’s cross. McAllister limped off on the half-hour with a hamstring injury and it wasn’t long before his replacement Lee Peacock was fouled by Daniel Brathwaite at the cost of a booking for the Hayes man.

Yellow turned to red for Brathwaite in first-half stoppage time when he was cautioned again for handball.

Hayes went 4-4-1 in the second half, leaving ex-Crystal Palace man Alasanne N’Diaye on his own up front.

And it was N’Diaye who made the 57th-minute breakthrough, racing onto full-back Calum Butcher’s centre and beating Ross Flitney at the second attempt.

Eastleigh’s troubles soon doubled when Sam Cox found himself in space some 25 yards out and his low shot went all along the ground, clipped the post and spun into the net.

The Hayes woodwork was rattled again when sub Andy Forbes headed against the bar from another Binns cross and the Spitfires eventually hit back with five minutes remaining.

Forbes’s blocked shot fell to Jai Reason who bruised the bar for a third time before centre back Chris Todd thumped in the rebound.

“All Hayes did in the first half was try not to get beat, but in the second half they were very organised and made life difficult for us,” said Hill. “We had good chances but, while we were attacking, we left the back door open.

“We were gutted to get beat, but I have to say the lads have been fantastic ever since January 8 and the fact of the matter is we’ve won six out eight games.” Eastleigh slip a place to seventh, six points outside the play-off zone.

They will be looking to get back to winning ways at home to Havant & Waterlooville tomorrow (7.45pm).

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