BEN Wright scored a 94th minute winner as Eastleigh won their first ever home game in the Vanarama Conference Premier 1-0 against Aldershot Town at the Silverlake Stadium last night.
Playing in front of television cameras – another first – a bumper 1,914 crowd watched what looked to be a very entertaining 0-0 draw, but with the last kick of the game Wright, who scored a series of vital goals as the Spitfires were crowned champions of the Conference South last term, popped up at the back-post to knock home a Michael Green corner.
Spitfires boss Richard Hill made two changes for the Aldershot match.
Former Shots captain Craig Stanley, who picked up a heel injury against Nuneaton Town in the opening game, didn’t recover in time and was replaced by Will Evans in midfield.
The other change saw Yemi Odubade come in for Stuart Fleetwood, who dropped to the bench but came on at half-time for Evans to give Eastleigh an extremely attacking complexion, with five attackers on duty.
There was a return to the Silverlake Stadium for Brett Williams, who made a smattering of appearances during two spells at Eastleigh.
The 26-year-old (above), who came through the Spitfires’ youth ranks, was dangerous on more than one occasion. He fired a powerful shot at Ross Flitney, while in the first-half pinged a longrange effort just wide and was almost gifted space in the box but for Dan Spence’s last ditch tackle.
It was a bitty start to the game with neither side nailing any consistent possession down. Experienced midfielder Ben Strevens (above) orchestrated Eastleigh’s surges forward – playing in Michael Green and Yemi Odubade.
Odubade proved increasingly dangerous as he battled with left back Chris Barker. The attacker used his pace to get past Barker before playing back to Spence, who fired a low cross into the Shots area. It skimmed past several defenders before being cleared.
On 15 minutes, Evans played an outstanding chip over the away side’s backline. Again it was Odubade who curled in an inviting cross that James Constable couldn’t reach.
Just past 30 minutes Constable – searching for his first Spitfires goal – saw an ambitious overhead-kick loop wide of the right post. He repeated the trick after the break with a similar outcome.
The battle of the first half was definitely Odubade v Barker and, while Eastleigh had more penetration, Aldershot had long spells of possession that saw no end product. Shots’ best chance fell to Jordan Roberts, who stabbed just wide from a teasing Jaydon Gibbs cross.
After the restart Odubade continued his first-half exploits by whipping in a superb cross to Constable, whose powered header went over the bar.
Following a quiet spell the game sprung into action on the hour mark.
Reason squeezed a cross in that found Midson but his poke at goal came off the crossbar.
The ball went straight to the other end as Josh Scott, who scored in the away side’s 3-1 win against Altrincham, controlled, turned and shot narrowly wide from the left of the box. In the closing stages Spence knocked a long ball up to substitute Craig McAllister, who nodded down to Constable, who couldn’t convert.
Then, in the dying embers of the match, Wright popped up with the vital goal.
Green whipped in a corner that evaded the defenders. It bounced once and the striker pounced to score the all-important winner.
Eastleigh (4-2-3-1): Ross Flitney; Dan Spence, Dean Beckwith (c), Paul Reid, Mike Green; Will Evans (Stuart Fleetwood 45) , Ben Strevens; Yemi Odubade (Craig McAllister 72), Jai Reason, Jack Midson ( Ben Wright 86); James Constable. Unused subs: Chris Todd, Lewis Noice.
Aldershot Town: (4-4-2): Phil Smith; Jaydon Gibbs, Joe Oastler, Glenn Wilson (c), Chris Baker; Mark Molesley ( Sam Hatton 74), Kieron Forbes, Damon Lathrope, Jordan Roberts (Joe N’Guessan 90j3+1); Brett Williams (Dan Fitchett 90), Josh Scott. Unused subs: Dan Thomas, Anthony Tonkin.