11:47pm Tuesday 21st February 2012
By Simon Walter
Eastleigh suffered a shock first defeat in six games at rivals Salisbury City last night.
The Blue Square South derby provided a big chance for the nouveau-riche Spitfires to show Old Sarum why they have such a bright future.
But instead Salisbury, including two debutants and returning favourite Charlie Griffin, completed a deserved 2-0 win.
Stuart Sinclair and Abdulai Bell-Baggie scored their first Salisbury goals to dampen Eastleigh's slim play-off hopes.
Midfielder Sinclair had gone close at the near post before opening the scoring.
He was allowed to run unchallenged before cutting in from the left to fire low inside Jack Dovey’s near post.
Dovey got his finger tips to the ball but not enough to prevent it squirming in.
Eastleigh failed to test new Salisbury goalkeeper Mark Scott until the 79th minute, but hit the woodwork twice in quick succession in the first half.
Sub Graeme Montgomery equalised in the 1-1 draw between the sides at the Silverlake last month but did not manage a repeat this time, volleying against the top of the crossbar from six yards out.
Moments later, Bradley Bubb hit the outside of a post.
For all their possession early in the second half, Eastleigh struggled to trouble Scott.
But Salisbury fashioned several openings during the last half hour and with better finishing would have won more comfortably.
Unmarked sub Bell-Baggie blazed over from ten yards before Marvin Williams’ 20-yarder was turned behind for a corner by Dovey, who also saved from Sinclair.
With ten minutes remaining, Scott was finally called into action on his Salisbury debut.
The Swindon Town loanee produced the best save of the night. Following a corner, Eastleigh defender Gary Elphick - making his second start for the club since signing last month - hooked a goal-bound volley through a crowded penalty area.
It looked destined for the bottom corner but Scott, diving at full stretch, got a strong right hand to it. That was as close as Eastleigh came but Salisbury soon doubled their lead on the counter-attack.
After a 50-yard burst down the left, substitute Dan Fitchett squared the ball selflessly for Bell-Baggie to secure the win from six yards out.
It would have been worse for Eastleigh had Brian Dutton not put a last-minute penalty wide following an Andy Forbes foul on Fitchett.
Salisbury City: Scott, Udoji, Ruddick, Dutton, Webb, Giles, Sinclair, Adelsbury, Williams (Fitchett 79), Griffin (Matthews 65), Losasso (Bell-Baggie 46). Subs not used: Smith, Clark.
Eastleigh: Dovey, Forbes, Elphick, Appiah (Montgomery 26, Gillespie 73), Jordan, Nelson, Smith, Bubb, Slabber (Brown 57), Scannell, McMahon. Subs not used: Green, S Wilson.
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