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Gift from Spitfires as Knight leaves on a high
EASTLEIGH 0 DORCHESTER TOWN 1
A LATE own goal from Gary Elphick saw Alan Knight’s reign at the helm of the Magpies end on a winning note at the Silverlake Stadium yesterday.
Both teams traded blows throughout but the knockout punch did not come until the closing stages after ex-Dorchester ace Jamie Brown was sent-off for Eastleigh for a second bookable offence.
That allowed the visitors to pile on the pressure in added-time and they got their reward when Elphick turned a cross into his own net with just seconds remaining.
Assistant-manager Phil Simkin, who is set to inherit the reins from Knight, said: “We closed them down and did not give them any space at all.
“We also passed the ball well with Ashley Nicholls producing another excellent performance in the midfield.
“They responded by dishing out some heavy treatment and brought on Jamie Brown at half-time to try and stop Ash playing but it did not work and in the end we managed to get a winner in added-time.
“It was an incredible effort and the perfect send off for Alan, who we wish well in the future.”
Knight made two changes to the starting XI that began the 2-1 victory at Farnborough the previous Satur-day with Sam Malsom and Neil Martin coming in for Max Worsfold and Ryan Dovell, who missed out through illness.
There were also a couple of switches on the bench with Steve Walker and Antony Carlile winning call-ups from the reserves.
The hosts made the livelier start with ex-Magpie Chris Flood having an effort cleared off the line by Jake Smeeton in the fifth minute but the visitors soon responded.
Kyle Critchell saw a shot deflected just wide from a set-piece before Martin went down under a challenge from Mitchell Nelson, only for the referee to wave away Town’s appeals for a penalty.
Malsom then went close following a neat flick on from Nicholls as Dorchester continued to taunt Eastleigh with some fine interplay.
Even when Tom Nichols had to go off for treatment close to the half-hour mark, Town still looked the better side with Malsom threatening in attack and Nicholls pulling the strings in the midfield.
Dorchester’s injured forward did eventually return but he was unable to run the knock off with Worsfold coming on in his place.
Despite the switch, the Magpies sustained their rhythm but still could not secure any reward with Nathan Walker striking over the top from 18 yards just before the break.
Brown then came on for Eastleigh before the restart and once again it was the hosts that had the first effort of the half with Daryl McMahon firing wide on 50 minutes.
Flood then saw a shot turned over by Nic Jones before Andy Forbes headed narrowly off target from a corner.
Dorchester continued to hold their own but it was the Spitfires that were now having the better chances with McMahon seeing another strike saved by the legs of Jones.
It was then the visitors’ turn to go close on the 70-minute mark when Worsfold let fly with a curling shot, only to see it diverted wide by Elphick’s timely header.
The Magpies appeared to be finishing stronger and with six minutes remaining they threatened again when Nicholls fired over after breaking through on the counter attack.
Jack Dovey then pulled off a decent save to stop Critchell’s free-kick before Brown received his marching orders after picking up two bookings for mistimed challenges in the space of five minutes.
Suddenly the hosts looked ragged and in added time the Magpies got the winner their enterprise deserved when Martin’s dangerous cross was turned past Dovey by the unfortunate Elphick.
Eastleigh: Dovey, Forbes, Elphick, McMahon, Jordan, Nelson, Smith, Bubb, Peacock (Phillips 64), Scannell (Brown 46), Flood (Herring 90). Subs not used: Barfoot, B Wilson.
Magpies: Jones, Critchell, Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Gleeson, Crittenden, Nicholls, Nichols (Worsfold 34), Malsom, Martin. Subs not used: Symes, Bell, Carlile, St Walker. Bookings – Eastleigh: Chris Flood, Bradley Bubb, Jamie Brown (two).
Magpies: Jamie Gleeson, Nathan Walker.
Sent off – Eastleigh: Jamie Brown (two bookings).