Hayes & Yeading United’s first venture into play off zone looked doomed to failure after a horrendous first 45 minutes at Church Road, the second 45 however brought some hope as a much better performance and two late goals mean’s a two goal deficit is taken to Eastleigh for the second leg, on a ground that saw United win 4-1 just last season.
With Delroy Preddie still recovering from injury, Aaron Howe continued in goal and he was soon to be a very busy man. Just five minutes had passed when the Spitfires took the lead. Warren Goodhind played an angled free-kick into the United area, Tom Jordan helped the ball on to Tony Taggart who neatly looped a header over the stranded Howe.
Just two minutes later it could have been two when Cadmore ran into the back of Matt Ruby and the defenders arm struck the ball with referee Muge pointing to the spot. Taggart stepped up only to be denied by a superb full stretch save by Howe who pushed the ball wide for a corner. That corner itself proved troublesome as Aaron Martin got his head to the ball with Howe again blocking the effort away for a corner. The second corner was met by Jordan but he headed over from close range.
United then worked out the way forwards, Tom Cadmore heading a Dale Binns corner into the air and Josh Scott being just too high as he won the second header. The Spitfires flew straight back at United as another Goodhind free-kick into the area was partially cleared by Cadmore to Brett Williams who rifled a shot just over the crossbar from 20 yards.
Play soon switched to the other end, Will Hendry moved across the edge of the area only to be deliberately chopped down as he went to move into the area. Hendry himself took the free-kick but despite firing through the wall, Jason Matthews in the Eastleigh goal gathered at the second attempt.
As play continued to switch from end to end, Goodhind and Williams combined to set up Taggart but his drive was too high and back at the other end Binns played the ball inside to Hendry who in turn found Scott, his shot on the turn being turned wide by Matthews. We were now just past the halfway point in the half and the visitors were gifted a second as Williams pounced on a poor Gary MacDonald header to smash the ball perfectly into the bottom corner of Howe’s net.
The Spitfires continued to push for another, and nearly got it on 33 minutes when Howe spilled a Taggart corner under pressure from Jordan who somehow managed to toe the loose ball over the bar from less than six yards out. The moment that could have ended United’s season came on 38 minutes when Ram Marwa fouled Ashley Carew who then seemed to get involved in a debate with Josh Scott, Mr Muge producing a seemingly harsh red card for United’s top scorer while only cautioning Carew with no action against the original perpetrator.
With a man advantage to go with the two goal lead already built, it came as no surprise when the Spitfires netted again in first half stoppage time. Taggart was again the catalyst as he moved past MacDonald and Cadmore before chipping the ball to the far post where Anthony Riviere stooped to head home.
Manager Garry Haylock re-arranged his ten man formation at the break by throwing striker Scott Fitzgerald into the fray in place of the sacrificed Steven Gregory. Sadly within five minutes the mountain became even higher to climb when James Mulley turned an off target Riviere shot into his own net leaving Howe stranded as he was moving in the opposite direction.
Taggart then broke away down the left from the halfway line, his shot being well saved by a full stretch Howe, with the loose ball being mopped up by MacDonald. Williams was then just off target from the edge of the box before United were denied a lifeline by a late assistant’s flag as Fitzgerald rose unchallenged at the far post to head home a cross from the left.
Less than 20 minutes remained when United finally got that lifeline, a free-kick into the Spitfires area saw Jordan head towards his own goal with his fellow defender Martin saving his skipper from embarrassment by heading the ball off the line for a corner. The corner was taken short and Hendry moved along the byeline before pulling it back to Marwa who saw his shot blocked by a defenders hand. Hendry stepped up and sent Matthews the wrong way from the spot.
Having earned that lifeline, United needed Howe’s agility again seconds later as he dived full length to push another Taggart effort around the post. With ten minutes of the first leg remaining United almost scored again. Hendry fired a low drive from fully 35 yards that Matthews fumbled onto the post, Binns raced in and got his toe to the ball but it went just the wrong side of the post.
A second goal that gives United a chance in the second leg came with one minute left on the watch as Fitzgerald headed a Hendry corner goal wards with Ruby helping the ball over the line amidst a scrum of bodies.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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Sponsors United Man of the Match: Will Hendry.