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Match Report


Posted Tue 10 Mar 15 at 21:30 PM


Despite taking the lead through a Joe Partington own-goal, Harriers slumped to back-to-back defeats as Eastleigh came from behind to take all three points at Aggborough.

A strong first-half display counted for nothing when Dan Walker, Jack Midson and Jai Reason all got onto the scoresheet for the Spitfires during the second half as Harriers crumbled.

Gary Whild's men remain in 10th in the Vanarama Conference but suffer their seventh game without a win, while the last Harriers player to score a goal was Lee Hughes in the 1-1 draw against Woking.

The gaffer made four changes to the side which lost 2-0 to Alfreton Town on Saturday as Kennedy Digie was handed his first appearance in the Vanarama Conference.

After making his debut from the bench in the FA Trophy at Bradford Park Avenue back in December, this was Academy graduate Digie’s first start for the first team.

Keyon Reffell made his fourth start of the season, while Craig Reid featured for the first time since the 1-0 FA Trophy defeat at home to Altrincham in January.

Kevin Nicholson was also reinstated to the starting XI, as Danny Wright, Callum Gittings and Jordan Tunnicliffe all dropped to the bench.

Aman Verma, meanwhile, was not included in the 16-man squad due to illness.

Eastleigh, on the other hand, only made one change from their 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers on Saturday, as Walker was given his first start for the club in place of Ben Strevens.

It was ironic that Harriers’ first goal in five games was scored by an opponent but it initially looked like it might be the little bit of luck we've deserved in recent times after countless missed chances.

And if Partington hadn’t headed into his own net, the lurking Hughes may well have done the business himself.

Eastleigh attempted to break up some clever play around the edge of the box by Harriers but Digie was on hand to put his foot on the ball and knock it to Reid.

The striker glanced up and spotted Hughes marauding into the box, but it was the unfortunate Spitfires defender who ended up nodding his cross past team-mate Ross Flitney to reward the Aggborough faithful with a ripple of the net in Harriers’ favour.

But the visitors fought back in the second half, scoring all three goals through set-pieces, and, as assistant Mark Creighton touched on earlier this week, conceding the first seemed to damage Harriers’ on-pitch morale.

A Reason free-kick from around 20 yards out was scrambled and scrapped around the box and it was unclear whether it was Walker or Jack Midson who landed the final touch past Danny Lewis.

There was no doubt about Eastleigh’s second after 67 minutes, however, as, in a very similar scenario, Reason’s set-piece was nodded across by Harry Pell and Midson was on hand to bundle the ball home on.

And just three minutes later, the Spitfires had a third when Reason took on the goalscoring responsibility himself and curled a left-sided free-kick around the wall and into the bottom-right-hand corner.

In the space of around 10 minutes, that was that - Eastleigh had taken full advantage of some below-par defending to seal their fourth consecutive victory.

It had all looked so promising for Harriers, who started as they appeared they had meant to go on.

Either side of the goal, Hughes headed on target inside the opening few minutes from Nicholson’s cross as Flitney was forced to make a good stop, before Jake Green’s cross was nicked away from the advancing Jack Byrne by Craig Stanley.

And three minutes before the interval, Harriers could so easily have doubled their advantage.

Green, who didn’t stop working all night, drove down the right-hand side and send in a pinpoint low cross aimed at Reid in the centre.

But the striker scuffed a mis-kick and the ball rolled past him towards the impressive Reffell, hacked hastily clear by the visitors before he could intercept it.

Eastleigh built on half-chances by James Constable and Pell in the opening 45 minutes and gradually began to step up the tempo after the interval.

It wasn’t an outstanding display of quality from the Spitfires, by any means, but a in-form side full of confidence did what was required to claim the victory.

Wright came on for 38-year-old Hughes and Dominic Knowles was introduced after Reid withdrew following a knock early in the second half, while Digie, who enjoyed a bright debut, was replaced by Gittings.

There was late hope for Harriers as Jamie Grimes looked to have headed home his first goal for the club two minutes from time, but it was ruled out after part of the build-up was judged to have been offside.

All in all, it was an exceedingly frustrating night for Whild and Creighton.

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