Beavers shot down by on form Spitfires

The Beavers fruitless recent search for vital Blue Square South league points took another blow as they succumbed 4-0 to a workman-like Eastleigh team.

Manager Mark Harper reintroduced loanee Ryan Blake at left back and cup-tied Esmond James back into the midfield, with Tom Hickey taking the place of Karle Andrews.

Once again, as seen many times this season, the Beavers went behind to an early goal.

In the 5th minute, Damian Scannell's cross from the Spitfires left found striker Jamie Slabber in enough space in the area that he was able to cushion his header past Craig Ross into the corner of the net.

Credit to the team, led by Dean Inman in the likely long term absence of club captain Matt Ruby, they worked themselves back into the game.

On 11 minutes, Dave Tarpey refused to give up on a ball running out of play, and beat a defender to it, the ball found then its way to James Simmonds, whose shot was blocked and cleared.

Four minutes later, Inman found himself on the end of a Tarpey corner but his attempt on goal was easily cleared away by the Eastleigh defence.

For all of the Beavers possession, they couldn't fashion any clear cut chances, and Eastleigh nearly doubled their advantage on 24 minutes as Ross had to move smartly to clear a Montgomery drive from outside the area.

Just after the half hour, the Beavers created what was probably their best chance of the half, as Tom Hickey quickly played a free kick into the path of Nathan Collier; his sharp cross from the touchline evaded all his advancing team-mates and was cleared.

Just before half time, the game was suddenly in doubt as a contest, as the official on the nearside of the pitch had to leave the field with what appeared to be a groin strain.

The announcement on the tannoy, requesting any suitably qualified spectators left the fans in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation.

Thankfully, a qualified replacement, Gareth Heighs, was in the ground and took up the flag, after feverishly getting into his referee's kit.

The second half continued in very much the same vein as the first, with the Beavers occasionally getting sight of the Eastleigh goal, the visitors defence under captain Tom Jordan dealing very comfortably with the best the Beavers could create.

On 55 minutes however, the Spitfires broke clear; Slabber was left with a one-on-one with Ross, but he could only fire the ball at point-blank range at the onrushing keeper, who then managed to shepherd ball and striker away for a corner.

Seven minutes later, the task became monumental for the Beavers as McMahon found himself in space by the corner flag, his low cross into the box found its way to an unmarked Bradley Bubb, who had the easiest of side-foots into the goal for Eastleigh's 2nd.

The Beavers set about their task with a grim determination; Esmond James' deflected shot on 69 minutes, had it gone in, would have created an interesting final 20 minutes, but the ball squirmed wide of the post and the Beavers chance looked to have gone.

This was confirmed, as three minutes later, Eastleigh's Andy Forbes intercepted a loose pass in midfield, drove into the penalty area and finished past Ross with some aplomb.

By now, Tobi Alabi had replaced Nathan Collier and Louis-Rae Beadle then soon came on for James, and the ship was steadied somewhat.

With 10 minute left, Eastleigh's substitute Richard Gillespie had managed to force his way through into the box, but Ryan Blake put in a last-ditch tackle to slide the ball off Gillespie's toes and thus save the Beavers.

With the game entering added time, a free kick was awarded to Eastleigh just outside the area, McMahon stepped up and curled the kick round the wall and past Ross for a fourth goal, which to some extent flattered the Spitfires a little.

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