GULLS PAY THE PENALTY AS SPITFIRES MARCH ON
EASTLEIGH manager Andy Hessenthaler praised the character shown by his side as they extended their unbeaten run to six matches against bottom side Torquay United.
Bournemouth loanee Sam Matthews gave the Spitfires the lead before Luke Young equalised for United, but a second half sucker punch from Gavin Hoyte killed off the Gulls’ hopes, who were dealt another blow when Jamie Reid saw his second-half penalty saved by Eastleigh keeper Ross Flitney.
“I think that this was probably a better result than the game against Dagenham if I’m honest,” said Hessenthaler.
“It’s a difficult place to come, they are bottom of the table and they are fighting for their lives, which makes it very hard for us. We were resilient and we dug in – we’re six games unbeaten now and things are looking up.”
Meanwhile Torquay manager Gary Owers believed his players deserved something from the defeat, which leaves them deep in the relegation mire.
“I haven’t been too critical of the players because I thought they had a go and I thought they deserved something out of the game,” said Owers.
“No doubt, We’ve been punished by giving away two really soft goals.”
The Spitfires edged ahead on nine minutes when Matthews struck with a low effort, which Ryan Clarke got a hand to before it trickled over the line.
United levelled matters in the 34th minute when Jake Gosling picked out Young from the left, who drilled home a low strike from the edge of the penalty area to score his fourth goal of the season. The goal visibly lifted United’s spirits as they finished the first half strongly and they made a positive start to the second as Gosling and Young combined again on 51 minutes, as Young teed up Gosling for an angled shot that agonisingly missed the target. However, Eastleigh restored their lead in the 70th minute, against the run of play, when Hoyte took advantage of a lapse in concentration in the United defence to slot home. Nine minutes later, referee Peter Wright pointed to the spot after George Dowling was felled by Sam Wood. Reid then stepped up to take the spot-kick, which was comfortably saved by Flitney, who conceded a penalty from Reid when the two sides previously met on Boxing Day.