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Nwokeji goal proves decisive

EASTLEIGH v BROMLEY
TUESDAY 8th MARCH 2011

Blue Square Bet South

Report by Jamie Montigue

Eastleigh sealed back to back victories at the Silverlake Stadium by securing all three points against Bromley tonight. Ian Baird’s side have moved up to sixth in the Blue Square Bet South table as they edge ever closer to the play-off positions with games in hand.

Mark Nwokeji scored his first goal for the club in the 66th minute, which proved to be decisive. Richard Gillespie had a golden opportunity to kill the game towards the end only to fire agonisingly wide of the post when clean through.

It was a close run game but the Spitfires defended well to keep an excellent clean sheet against a pacy counter-attacking side, and most importantly added three more points to their league tally.

Eastleigh named an unchanged starting eleven to the side that beat fellow promotion hopefuls Chelmsford by two goals to one on Saturday.

With just a minute on the clock, Brett Poate fired an ambitious low shot inches past the post from all of 35-yards. Five minutes later, Anthony Riviere found Jamie Slabber in the Bromley penalty area, but the Spitfires’ top goal scorer failed to get a shot away, and was quickly crowded out by opposition defenders.

Bromley began to see more of the ball as the half wore on, and with just over quarter of an hour played, Tony Finn’s dangerous free kick had to be headed clear for a corner. The visitors put pressure on the Eastleigh defence for a short spell with right winger Finn causing a few problems with his pace, skill and direct running. Following another powerful run at the heart of the Eastleigh defence, Finn caused panic and forced a Bromley corner. Finn’s excellent delivery from the left hand-side flew right across the face of the Eastleigh goal and just needed a touch to divert in to the back of the net.

Charlie Ide had the next best chance of the game in the 21st minute, but was ushered off the ball by Ross Bottomley, who stood tall just as the Bromley striker looked to get a shot away from 8-yards.

Midway through the half, a neat interchange for Eastleigh saw Richard Graham knock the ball down the left flank, for Brett Poate on the overlap, who crossed to the far post. Tony Taggart was in a good position but was beaten to the ball by his marker, whose header cleared the immediate danger.

At the opposite end, it took a strong, perfectly-timed challenge from captain Tom Jordan to keep out Ide’s goal-bound attempt. Jamie England pounced on the rebound and looked to catch Jason Matthews out with a lofted effort that flew comfortably over the cross bar.

Both teams cancelled each other out for the remainder of the half, where it remained goalless.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Bromley

With neither side having found a breakthrough and both goalkeeper’s rarely tested in the first half, there was improvements to be made for Eastleigh and Bromley if the game was to find a goal.

Eastleigh made their first change at the start of the second half with on-loan AFC Wimbledon striker Mark Nwokeji given forty-five minutes to try and make an impact on the outcome of the game. Ian Herring was the player to withdrawn from the action at the halfway stage.

The tactical switch meant Eastleigh were now operating with two attackers, Nwokeji partnering Slabber up front, as opposed to the 4-5-1 adopted in the first forty-five.

Bromley began the half the better side with Charlie Ide having two good opportunities within the space of a couple of minutes. His first chance came in the 50th minute when the striker was picked out by a pinpoint cross from the left to present Ide with a free header on goal. Ide should have done better but failed to get a decent contact on the ball. Moments later, Ide was then free in the Eastleigh area once more, but this time the Bromley forward beat Matthews only to see his shot from just 6-yards clip the outside of the post.

Jason Matthews was alert to sweep up a through ball prior to the hour mark when Ide had broken free of the Eastleigh back four.

The Lilywhites continued to threaten, but Eastleigh weathered the storm by defending well as a unit. Bromley also had a goal ruled out for offside.

Charlie Ide was clean through yet again in the 62nd minute, however, following a fine pass in behind the Eastleigh defence from Jamie England. The flag stayed down but the striker lifted his shot over both the keeper and the goal, failing to take advantage of the opportunity to break the deadlock.

Eastleigh made their second change of the evening when Luke Byles replaced the injured Anthony Riviere. Byles, primarily a centre back or left-sided defender, slotted in at central midfield and performed admirably not looking at all out of place; thus proving his versatility.

The one moment that changed the game, came in the 66th minute when MARK NWOKEJI scored his first goal for the club to add to a solid second half performance for the pacy forward. Tony Taggart’s free kick to the back post was headed across goal by Tom Jordan and Nwokeji was in the right place, at the right time to stab the ball home from close range.

Late substitute Richard Gillespie could have doubled the lead and killed the game off six minutes from time for the hosts. The former Bashley hotshot was beyond the last defender and had time to pick his spot but dragged his shot inches wide to squander a clear cut chance. It didn’t matter as it turned out, as the Spitfires dug in to collect maximum points and a morale-boosting clean sheet for the goalkeeper and his defence.

Goal scorer Mark Nwokeji was named as the Sponsors man of the match for the impression he made in coming off the bench, by effectively changing the game and scoring the decisive goal.

Next up for the Spitfires is an away trip to Bishops Stortford at the weekend, where Baird’s men will be in search of nine points out of nine from three games in seven days.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-0 Bromley
Bromley - 080311

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