REPORT: Spitfires 1-1 Leyton Orient

Despite taking the lead through a second successive Josh Hare header, Eastleigh received a well deserved point at home to high flying Leyton Orient.

Hare’s header in the 36th minute was not enough for the three points, as Orient responded with an equaliser in the 65th minute with the game finishing 1-1.

Ben Strevens went with an unchanged line-up to face the league leaders; Johnson missed out on the squad once as the partnership of Alex Wynter and Andrew Boyce at centre back continued following a clean sheet at Halifax. Josh Hare will be looking to build on the goal on his return as he starts alongside Michael Green on the flanks.

The two academy graduates of Ollie Dennett and Tom Bearwish kept their place on the bench, alongside the returning Chris Zebroski, Joey Jones and Ross Flitney.

But the Spitfires did not get off to the best of starts at the Silverlake; midfielder Oscar Gobern was forced off with an injury after just six minutes, Joey Jones the one to take his place.

It could’ve got worse just over a minute later for the home side, a looping ball was met by Orient’s Josh Koroma at the back post. He headed into an open net and wheeled away in celebration, only to see the linesman raise his flag.

The game came to life following this moment, the Eastleigh faithful at the Silverlake creating an imposing atmosphere every time the home side broke free with the ball.

Orient’s threat mainly came through set pieces; the skipper McAnuff fizzed in several efforts from the left hand side, causing the Spitfires to scramble but ultimately deal with the pressure inside the first 20 minutes.

In a relatively quiet first half the Spitfires kept the league leaders at bay whilst creating very little themselves. Josh Koroma was seemingly through 35 minutes in but for a backtracking Green who cleared for the hosts.

Soon the home side got their reward for great defensive play. Mark Yeates set up for a corner on the left-hand side, whipped in a ball and that man Josh Hare – as he did at Halifax on Saturday – rose highest to head home.

(Pic: Tom Mulholland)

It was Eastleigh’s first effort on target, but it sparked terrific celebrations in the Shed End as the home side continued to push following breaking the deadlock.

Green broke forward and let fire from range minutes after Hare’s second headed goal in as many games, his effort flying just over of Dean Brill’s goal.

As the game hit the 40 minute mark the Spitfires continued to press; McCallum appeared to be hauled down by the Orient defenders as he contests for the ball, but the referee remained uninterested.

At the break it remained 1-0 to Eastleigh, and the home side almost doubled their lead seconds into the second half.

Ben Williamson wriggled his way into the Orient box and was inches away from making it two but for a brilliant block from goalkeeper Brill.

But as expected the early pattern of play in this second half was spent in Eastleigh’s own box, as Orient continued to press for the all important second goal of the game.

Despite not venturing out of their own half much, the first 15 minutes of the second half showcases the defensive strength of the Spitfires.

But the Spitfires did get some joy on the counter, using their pace and strength to push back the league leaders and make their defence worry.

Joey Jones went inches away for the home side on the hour mark; Hare produced a strong low cross across goal which was met by the midfielder but fired just wide.

(Pic: Tom Mulholland)

However the best chance of the half so far fell to Orient, Craig Cray’s first time cross was perilously close to the foot of the outstretching Macauley Boone who couldn’t make a connection.

Soon the continued pressure paid off for the visitors, another low cross was finished with an audacious flick off the heel by Boone as the league leaders drew level.

It was the Spitfires who responded quickest to the second goal of the game; Yeates corner proved difficult to deal with again for Orient, but the referee spotted a foul as an Eastleigh man rose highest a forced a terrific save from Brill.

Orient however showed why they were positioned as they are in the National League; managing to do what so many teams have failed to do and find gaps in between the Spitfires defence.

But the Spitfires continued to make themselves heard on the counter; a long ball brilliantly bought down by McCallum on the 80 minute mark soon turned into shouts for an Eastleigh free-kick as the striker was taken down himself, nothing doing from the referee.

With five minutes to go the Spitfires threw on Chris Zebroski in search of the illusive third goal of this game, but also to provide some cover in defence as Orient continued to press.

Ultimately both sides battled out the remaining minutes as the game finished all square, a brilliant point for the Spitfires against high flying Leyton Orient.

It doesn’t get any easier however, Eastleigh face second place Salford City at home on Saturday.