Aaron Lobb’s double earned Eastleigh a hard fought 2-2 draw against both Farnborough Town and the ever-changing weather conditions.
Despite going behind early to Farnborough’s Tom Adag’s close range effort amidst torrential rain, Lobb’s first time equaliser from a Ryan Mackney corner brought a ray of hope and belief to the young Spitfires.
The rain temporarily eased off when Lobb gave Eastleigh the lead with an accurate low finish into the far left corner to go into half-time on top.
Despite no rain falling in the second half, the slick residue remained on top of the astro-turf surface and preyed on Eastleigh ‘keeper Josh Cotton, who unfortunately slipped and allowed Farnborough striker Matt Roberts a chance he couldn’t miss to gain a draw for the away side.
The rain held off for a minute’s silence to be impeccably held before the match in memory of club founder Derik Brooks.
However, once the game kicked off, so did the downpour – and Eastleigh nearly sailed into the lead early on. Cotton’s goal kick was flicked on by captain Jack Adams’ head and into the path of Aaron Lobb, but his low effort from inside the box was well stopped by ‘ keeper James Soale.
Eastleigh found themselves behind 10 minutes in thanks to Adag. Brett Cunningham’s tricky play down the left allowed him to drive in a mischievous low cross which wasn’t dealt with until Adag poked home the loose ball.
Eight minutes later, and the young Spitfires soared back into contention with a brilliantly designed corner. Mackney’s low driven ball was met by the onrushing Lobb, who smashed it into the roof of the net.
Mackney was on set piece duty throughout the afternoon, but a succession of free kicks from out wide failed to produce a goal to give Eastleigh the lead.
The players didn’t need to wait too long for their goal though as Lobb fired them ahead in the 28th minute. Jack Adams’ threaded through ball into the box wasn’t squandered by Lobb, who angled the ball off the post to put the Spitfires ahead.
Full of confidence, intricate play by the Spitfires’ midfield set Jacob Read free down the right and even though he beat the keeper with his chipped shot, it also beat the left post as it drifted just wide.
Read’s persistence was evident just before half-time when he was the only one to chase down a loose ball and was rewarded by reaching it before the hesitant keeper. However, his flicked shot, that also beat the keeper, was cleared off the line.
The Spitfires stalled in the second half as Farnborough forced their way into Eastleigh territory, with efforts from Ethan Allen just going wide early on.
The physical presence of Tedroy Ricketts up front for Farnborough broke through the Eastleigh back line with only 20 minutes to go, but a brave Cotton dived down at the feet of the striker to smother his chance.
However, moments later it all went wrong for Cotton during a routine clearance as he slipped on the very damp surface and gifted a golden opportunity to Farnborough. Despite being able to halt the onrushing Lloyd Thompson, the rebound fell to Roberts whose shot trickled into the far corner from close range.
This finally woke up the young Spitfires in the second half, and with ten minutes to go, Aaron Lobb looked to grab his hat-trick in a bubble of space he found just outside the area, but his effort ballooned over the bar.
The Spitfires didn’t stop charging forward looking for the winner, and just before full-time Read moved the ball onto his right foot to float a cross to the far post. Ben Scorey, who had ventured up from midfield, met the cross but his header looped wide as the young Spitfires just missed victory and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
“It wasn’t for the lack of trying, it’s just that things didn’t go our way in the second half”Luke Hardy, Eastleigh Blues Manager
“To be honest, looking at the second half, a draw was a fair result,” admitted coach Luke Hardy.
“The conditions weren’t great in the first half but I thought we played alright.
“We created some good chances, possibly could have been a few more up going into half-time.
“Second half, apart from the last ten minutes, we struggled to get going.
“It wasn’t for the lack of trying, it’s just that things didn’t go our way in the second half.
“It was a little bit bitty, too many fouls given away, balls off the pitch because of the wind and we struggled to get any momentum in the game.
“We’ve got a team that scores goals, we’ve scored every game this year – defensively we’re not good enough, and that’s not aimed at the back four but for everyone and it’s something we’re definitely going to look at.”
Report by Charlie Cranstone.
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