Spitfires seek solution to scoring dilemma

Daily Echo: Stuart Fleetwood Stuart Fleetwood

EASTLEIGH possess some of the finest strike talent in the Skrill Conference South but are not scoring enough goals.

It’s a conundrum manager Richard Hill and his players can’t get their heads round.

Monday’s hastily rearranged game at Tonbridge Angels followed an all-too-familiar pattern for the pedigree pre-season title favourites.

The Spitfires dominated the first ten minutes and practical ly all of the second half. But, despite creating a shed-load of chances, they had only one Stuart Fleetwood goal – made by another excellent run and cross by Dan Spence – to show for their efforts in a costly 2-1 defeat.

Not for the first time, the opposition keeper – Angels’ former Havant & Waterlooville stopper Clark Masters – emerged as man-of-the-match.

“I’d love to see the stats on how often that’s happened,” said Hill, leads his side to Hampshire rivals Farnborough today. “We started very well and had a couple of chances we should have put away.

“Tonbridge then broke and scored with their first shot which set us back a bit.

“In the second half we played pretty well, but when you’re chasing a game and you’re in the ascendancy creating chance after chance, it looks as if you’re huffing and puffing.

“We’ve got Jai Reason who’s scored goals wherever he’s been and the same for Stuart Fleetwood, Craig McAllister and Yemi Odubade.

“Reece Connolly’s not been with us long and Ben Wright’s new in, but all these lads have scored goals for other clubs and they’re currently getting more chances than they’ve ever had and they’re not scoring as many.

“Am I to blame? I would be accountable if we weren’t creating chances, but we are – and not just half-chances either. At Tonbridge we had 20 goal attempts and 12 of them were very good chances.”

Hill – a proven finisher during his Northampton Town days – spent the best part of an hour yesterday putting his team through their paces in front of goal in a match-type situation.

“People keep telling me to sign this and that player, but I’ve got five or six lads here who, if they’d become available at another club, people would be saying ‘sign him, he’ll score loads,’ ” he said

“Is it pressure? I don’t know, but I’m trying to play it down as much as possible. Before a game the words I say to the play ers are minimal. I don’t want to stand there giving a Churchill-like speech because they’re under enough pressure as it is.”

As for fans’ criticism of team selection, Hill said simply: “I select the team on the facts I know about my players – how they’re train ing and what they’re doing away from football.

“People have got their favourites who they like to see playing every week, but my decision is based on train ing and how they’re living their lives.”

Midfielder Jamie Coll-ins (ankle) is an injury concern for Cherrywood Road. Hill said: “I’ve got a good squad and I’m not going to risk people unnecessarily.”

 

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