BLUE SQUARE BET SOUTH Eastleigh got their first Blue Square Bet South point on the board last night with a much improved performance at home to Hampshire rivals Basingstoke Town.
But while manager Ian Baird was pleased to flush Saturday’s 3-0 Boreham Wood disaster out of the system, he was less than impressed with the award of a free kick that allowed Basingstoke to hit back for a 1-1 draw in front of a 609 Silverlake crowd.
Craig McAllister had headed the Spitfires in front against his old club in the first half, but it was his challenge – a perfectly legitimate one, according to Baird – that led to Matt Warner’s spectacular 73rd-minute equaliser.
“We played very well tonight, but the referee has cost us the game,” sighed the Eastleigh boss.
“He was poor all night and then he’s awarded a free kick on the edge of the box for a foul that only he saw.
“I was very pleased with our performance though.
“We restricted them to no efforts in the first half and they went 4-3-3 after the break “Basingstoke are extremely direct. Their goalkeeper Ashley Bayes kicks the ball a country mile and with Tim Sills up top, it makes them very dangerous.
“We’ve been labelled direct in the past, but only one side passed the ball tonight and it was us.
“We had quite a few chances and in the last 15 minutes we fired three or four across the goal face. It’s just a shame there was no one on the end of them.”
Eastleigh had the better of the first-half possession and took the lead with half an hour gone.
Skipper Daryl McMahon picked up a punch by Bayes and shot narrowly over via a deflection.
The Irishman’s corner found McAllister lurking around the penalty spot and defender Rob Rice, who was guarding the post, could only help the striker’s powerful header into the net.
Basingstoke, who had had to make an early substitution when ex-Spitfire Shaun McAuley bowed out injured, went straight down the other end and forced a corner of their own, but Stuart Lake looped a header over.
The north Hampshire visitors came out firing after the break and, after Tim Sills and substitute Delano Sam-Yorke had wasted opportunities, Wes Daly played through ex-Saints and Eastleigh youngster Jordace Holder-Spooner whose angled shot drifted narrowly wide.
Spitfires midfielder Jai Reason tested Bayes at the other end before making way for Damian Scannell while, for Basingstoke, Holder-Spooner was replaced by former AFC Totton frontman Stefan Brown.
Basingstoke levelled in spectacular style when Matt Warner smashed an unstoppable free kick into the top corner.
Warner then took another free kick further out but fired it straight at Dovey.
On 83 minutes Eastleigh replaced Marvin Williams with debut-making Dale Binns, who had just returned from honeymoon. The home side threw everything at Basingstoke in the closing stages, but Moses Ademola had one shot saved and flashed another inches wide, while McMahon had a low effort blocked.
Next up for the Spitfires is a Saturday visit from Weston -super-Mare, who lost 2-1 at Farnborough last night.
Ex-Saint Jamie White scored twice in ten-man Salisbury City’s 2-1 win at Tonbridge, while Stuart Ritchie’s Havant & Waterlooville salvaged a 3-3 draw at Truro through Ollie Palmer (2) and Christian Nanetti.