Blue Square Bet South
Eastleigh 1 Boreham Wood 1
by John Mead
Charlie O’Loughlin celebrated his call up to the England University Squad with a goal that rescued a priceless point that looked unfathomable after the opening half. Up against the best side they have faced all Season, give or take Welling United, Ian Allinson’s men dug deep and ensured they came away from fortress Silverlake Stadium with a share of the spoils in this six pointer.
With a win for Richard Hill’s men ensuring that they drew level with fifth placed Wood, his side caused all kinds of problems for the visitors. Quick to the challenge, extremely dangerous on the attack, it was a real challenge that Ian Allinson quickly pointed out, “Tested us mentally and we did not disappoint. They caused us more problems than Welling United I felt and they gave us no time on the ball.”
In a first half totally dominated by the home side, Wood battled hard to go in just a goal down. It was the inspired substitution with seventeen minutes to go that drove Wood on to gain the priceless point. “We needed to get a grip in the middle of the park and Mario Noto came on and did that.”
An early warning came from Dale Binns who had an eye for goal all evening. He broke from inside his own half shooting just wide. A sign of what was to come eventually after ten minutes saw O’Loughlin head wide from a Greg Morgan free kick. It was brief respite with Chris Zebrowski hitting an effort from the edge of the area that forced James Russell into his first of many saves.
The Spitfires gained reward for their flying opening after seventeen minutes. The impressive Michael Green broke down the left wing, playing a one two to advance to the goal line. His cross was headed clear by O’Loughlin only as far as Damien Scannell who set up Jai Reason for a quite sumptuous volley from just inside the area that left Russell little chance.
Green’s long throw from the left allowed Binns to force Russell to punch clear, before Binns again volleyed just wide. Loick Pires then went close for Wood when played through by Graeme Montgomery, his left footed shot taking a deflection before looping just wide of the right hand post.
Zebrowski and Scannell both threatened before the break, but the longer it stayed at 1 – 0, the greater the frustration for the home side, even though Wood were guilty of not defending from the back on occasions,which gave the home side hope of a second goal. Binns and Zebrowski combined after the interval, although the end product was poor. Russell then pulled off a remarkable save clawing to safety a ferocious volley bound for the top left hand corner from Binns.
Michael Thalassitis then caused Eastleigh ‘keeper Ross Flitney to rush out and chest to safety as the game tightened up somewhat, thanks to a more team approach to defending by Wood.
Russell saved well to deny Reason who struck a fierce goal bound effort, before O’Loughlin struck with the equaliser after seventy-two minutes. Morgan’s corner from the left was met by the powerful defender who angled a fine header beyond Flitney. That signalled the introduction of Noto in place of Montgomery and Wood grew in strength from this, but not before they survived an onslaught.
Binns almost grabbed his goal six minutes later bursting through to delicately lift the ball beyond Russell, only for his effort to strike the inside of the left hand post before coming back into play. A minute later Green supplied the cross for Zebrowski whose header hit the top of the crossbar. Then Substitute Adam Watkins supplied a cross that Chris Todd headed towards the far post only for Russell to again save his side with a twisting reaction save on the line. With the fresh legs of Piero Mingoia and Cliff Akurang introduced Wood finished strongly. Noto put Dean Beckwith under pressure, with Akurang nearly intercepting his pass back to Flitney.
Wood held out for an extremely hard fought point against a side that according to Ian Allinson, “Never gave us a moment on the ball. Full credit to Eastleigh they are a force to be reckoned with. We did not do ourselves any favours first half when we failed to defend as a team. We put ourselves under immense pressure, but we addressed that in the second half.”
Team: Russell, Nunn, Jones, Garrard, O’Loughlin, Reynolds, Morgan (Sub – Mingoia 86 mins.), Isaac, Pires (Sub – Akurang 86 mins.), Thalassitis, Montgomery (Sub – Noto 73 mins.).
Subs (Not used): Hastings, Doolan.
Bookings: O’Loughlin, Thalassitis.
Goals: Eastleigh: Reason 17. Boreham Wood: O’Loughlin 72.
Man of the Match: Charlie O’Loughlin.