The magic of the cup! Although in recent seasons it’s been more tragic than magic for the Bees.
When the FA Cup Gods came up with this fixture, a potential banana skin for sure, I was concerned it may turn into a Martin Allen media circus. However, with an upturn in recent performances and results and Dean Smith knowing full well that us fans would like to see a cup run this season, we took to the pitch with an optimism that perhaps we wouldn’t have had a fortnight ago.
Full marks to the Eastleigh fans, a really good turnout and a decent bunch, judging by the ones I saw in the Griffin before the game, They cheered all game and in fairness were louder than our own fans throughout the game.
With the ongoing transfer speculation linking Scot Hogan to West Ham, it was inevitable he would be rested for this game. The only minor surprise was the omission of the Hoff from the starting line up. A sign he is also being prepared to move on…
With Bjelland also rested/injured, a strong looking team got to grips with the wet conditions from the off. Within 8 minuteswe had tested the resolve of the Spitfires back four on a couple of occasions and when Vibe was hacked down a pen was awarded. After a long break for treatment to the injured Eastleigh player, resulting in his premature substitution, Barbet stepped up and scored comfortably past the aging Stack in the visitors goal.
It was soon 2-0 as a lovely Josh McEachran cross was headed in by the excellent Ton Field (okay, I admit I had to make an unscheduled pit stop as this goal went in….)
Lasse Vibe wrapped things up as a contest on 22 mins as he bent a right foot shot around the hapless keeper. 3-0
Eventually, the Spitfires managed a corner and from the dead ball, Bentley managed to paw it on to his own bar and it fell at the feet of the big Ayo Obileyee to tap in. 3-1
Field was rampaging forward, he had little to do defensively, and was spotted by another astute pass from Josh Mac, this time he shot low under the keeper. 4-1 and just over half an hour played!
Talk about saving the best till last…Romaine Sawyers, seems only capable of wonder strikes. His arrow from the outside of his right foot was worthy of winning any game of football. 5-1 HT
How many times does it happen? A deluge of goals in the first half followed by a drought in the second…
We still had the biggest cheer of the afternoon to come though, after the newly crowned King of Spain made his triumphant return to his spiritual homeland. Step forward Jota! For it was him, replacing a tiring Nico on the hour. In fairness, he played more than a cameo role with some confident running with the ball and some incisive runs at the heart of the Eastleigh defence.
Also good to see Chris Mepham being rewarded with a new contract and a first outing in the first team as a sub for Harlee.
Josh Clarke also came on as a second half sub for Maxim Colin.
Overall, a great afternoon of entertainment, a much needed passage into the 4th round and a bit of genuine affection for a former manager. Good work!
Bentley 6: Shaky on the corner that gifted them a goal and not as assured as he could be.
Colin 7: Nothing to do defensively and was neat and tidy breaking forward, replaced by Josh C.
Field 9: Magnificent confidence boost for the young man, took both his goals in a calm and assured way. Well done Tom!
Harlee 7: Nothing got past him, Mad Dog had alluded to him being targeted by their forwards but in reality he wasn’t
Egan 7: Too good and knew too much for their forwards, never troubled.
Barbet 8: A very competent display and growing into a good player.
Woods 7: For once not our best midfielder. Played a supporting role to Josh this time.
Sawyers 8: A really good display from our enigma, has it all in the locker but improving as the season unfolds.
McEachran 9: Superb display and a real pass master, instrumental in 4 of the goals. If he could just do it every week. Maybe Dean Smith should give him an extended run…
Nico 7: Didn’t put a foot wrong and harried Eastleigh into making mistakes. Back to his energetic best but taken off for a well earned rest.
Vibe 7: Didn’t quite give the performance to suggest he could fill the large boots of Hogan, if/when he leaves. Good enough against a non-league outfit though.
Clarke for Colin HT 7: Good to see him back on the pitch, tentative return to first team action, has much more to give.
Jota for Nico 60 mins 7: Easy to see why he got the reception he did, a touch of class that has been sadly missing for too long, will he stay?
Mepham for Harlee 85 7: Looked fairly confident and assured, big future lies ahead if he works hard and learns from others.
Looking forward to the 4th round draw at 7pm on Monday…
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