REPORT: Barrow 0-3 Spitfires

Goals from Paul McCallum (2) and Ben Williamson gave Ben Strevens a perfect start to life as Eastleigh manager up north.

A chip from McCallum in the first half which was assisted by Max Stryjek’s goal kick was followed by a flick from Williamson just before half time, before McCallum added his second just after the break.

Saturday’s fixture saw Eastleigh’s longest away trip of the season, facing a Barrow side they have failed to get anything from in the past four meetings.

Ben Streven’s first team sheet in official charge featured only the one change from the previous game. Michael Green misses out through injury, making way for Cavaghn Miley in defence.

The visitors were by far the more assertive side in the first 10 minutes; Mark Yeates looking a threat to the hosts as he surged down the right wing, winning the Spitfires a dangerous free-kick in the process.

Less than 15 minutes gone, and Eastleigh made the early pressure count in the craziest of fashions. Max Stryjek took a goal-kick which reached an unmarked Paul McCallum in the Barrow half of the pitch.

The Spitfires’ top goalscorer controlled the ball and chipped it over the onrushing ‘keeper Joel Dixon to give Ben Strevens his first goal in permanent charge.

Eastleigh continued to worry the nervy Barrow defence; Johnson found Hare on the right wing who cut it inside to Yeates, who’s eventual shot is blocked well.

The tensions soon got to a couple of the players; a poor challenge from skipper Danny Hollands sparked an unnecessary reaction from Barrow’s Connor Brown, but both got away without a booking.

Hollands was involved once more on the half hour mark, clashing heads with Joey Jones which meant he was forced off to change shirts.

Barrow attempted to respond but Eastleigh’s midfield stood strong; Jones and Hollands – despite clashing heads – formed an invisible wall for the visitors during the first half that the hosts struggle to topple.

Eastleigh’s chances became more and more sparse as the first 45 went on; McCallum firing just wide in the best of the rare efforts on the 40 minute mark.

But the lack of chances ultimately did not matter, with the Spitfires doubling their lead on the 42nd minute mark.

Yeates’ free-kick finds McCallum at the back post who headers down into the path of Ben Williamson who, after winning the initial spot kick, flick it into an open net.

It’s his second in as many games, and it came at the perfect time for Eastleigh just before the break.

The second half couldn’t have started better for the Spitfires, who made it 3-0 within five minutes of the restart through that man Paul McCallum once more.

Eastleigh’s number nine found himself unmarked in the box, and got on the end of a great cross from Yeates with a diving header to add another.

The goal typified the visitor’s game so far, finding space in key areas inside the box and being clinical when they got their chances.

Much like the first half Eastleigh stepped off the pressure as the home side looked to respond, confident in their ability to defend their strong lead.

Stryjek was moreorless a spectator during the game but when called into action did what he did best. In the 73rd minute the keeper pulled off a great save to deny a curling effort from Erico Sousa.

With 15 minutes or so to go the Spitfires were in full control of possession, passing and moving the ball around as they set the tempo for the second-half.

The visitors came close to adding a fourth just shy of the 80 minute mark; Andrew Boyce coming forward to flick on a Yeates free-kick which is well saved by ‘keeper Joel Dixon on the line.

The home side had a call for a penalty in the 81st minute as Johnson steps in to deny Tyler Smith but the referee remained uninterested.

For the remainder of the game the Spitfires sat back and allowed Barrow to try and ultimately fail to break them down.

In the end it was a perfect start to life as Eastleigh manager for Ben Strevens, with a visit from a former friend awaiting him at the Silverlake next week through the visit of Chesterfield.

– Adam Whyte