Eastleigh 1 Aldershot Town 1


FRUSTRATION was the overriding emotion in the Eastleigh camp today as they rounded off 2015 with a 1-1 draw against Aldershot Town in front of a 2,107 Silverlake crowd.

But while manager Chris Todd was left to rue a series of second-half chances that got away in this fast-paced, festive tale of two penalties, he was the first to give credit to a gutsy Shots side who had lost eight of their previous nine games.

Todd, whose team have slipped to fourth in the Vanarama National League, reflected: “We could have won, but Aldershot deserved a draw for their efforts.

“They came here today, worked hard for their manager, got some great blocks in and stuck their bodies on the line.

“We’re frustrated, but we’re not always going to win. The pleasing side is that second half we were getting in some great positions and hitting the target. We didn’t get that bit of luck, it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Having had to do things the hard way at Bromley on Boxing Day, battling back from two down for 2-2, Eastleigh got their noses in front this time with just eight minutes gone.

Shots keeper Phil Smith had already denied James Constable and Jai Reason, but he was helpless to stop a confidently struck penalty from midfielder Josh Payne after defender Omar Beckles had shoved Constable inside the area.

The visitors responded strongly, forcing save after brilliant save from Spitfires keeper Ross Flitney before earning a penalty of their own on 26 minutes.

Flitney bailed the Spitfires out of trouble with smart stops from Charlie Walker and Tom Richards. But when Shots’ Jake Gallagher was allowed a free run through the middle, Midson was adjudged to have tripped Walker as the ball came into the Eastleigh area.

Midson maintained his innocence, but referee Richard Martin pointed to the spot and Sam Hatton forcefully drove the ball into Flitney’s bottom right-hand corner.

As a scintillatingly open game unfolded, deliveries from Lee Cook and Midson gave Aldershot some last-ditch defending to do and when fit-again ex-Saint Dan Harding did find an Eastleigh head, Midson’s effort cleared the bar.

The Shots, though, swarmed all over the Spitfires at times and on 41 minutes Flitney picked up a yellow card for blatantly preventing dangerman Walker from taking a quick throw-in having left his goal unattended while ushering the ball to safety.

The second half continued in breathless, end-to-end fashion with Walker drilling narrowly wide for Aldershot before Jai Reason came agonisingly close to restoring Eastleigh’s lead on the hour.

Having muscled past Shots skipper Sean McGinty, he bent a sublime left-foot shot across keeper Smith, but the ball struck the base of the far post and ran back across goal face, right under the noses of the bemused Spitfires faithful packed into the clubhouse end.

Reason soon made way for jet-heeled winger Matty Fanimo, but not before those Eastleigh fans were lamenting another missed opportunity when ex-Swindon and Portsmouth stopper Smith denied Payne from point-blank range.

And there was yet another sharp intake of breath when Smith miraculously clawed the ball away one-handedly to deny Midson’s replacement Yemi Odubade.

But Aldershot, too, had their chances in a tense, sometimes tetchy finale.

They will have returned to north Hampshire proud of snaffling a share of the spoils from this classy Eastleigh side who have much to look forward to in 2016.

Following this Saturday's return league fixture at home to Bromley, the Spitfires host Bolton Wanderers (January 9) and Gateshead (January 16) in the FA Cup and FA Trophy respectively.

Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Joe Partington, Dan Harding, Andy Drury, Will Evans, Paul Reid, Lee Cook, Andy Drury, James Constable, Jack Midson (Yemi Odubade, 77), Jai Reason (Matty Fanimo, 71). Subs: Michael Poke, Michael Green, Ben Strevens.

Aldershot Town: Phil Smith, Joe Oastler, Sean McGinty, Sam Hatton, Jim Stevenson, Charlie Walker, Tom Richards, Cheye Alexander, Omar Beckles, Jake Gallagher, Daniel Carr (Marcus Harness, 80). Subs (not used): Dan Thomas, Damon Lathrope, Luke Oliver, Dan Walker.

Referee: Richard Martin

Attendance: 2,107