Boro’ produce best in Eastleigh thriller

Chris Shephard takes on the Eastleigh defence
Chris Shephard takes on the Eastleigh defence

An absorbing, pulsating contest saw Borough share the spoils with title-chasing Eastleigh on Tuesday night – with a stoppage-time penalty save denying them all three points.

The big red electric clock had just reached 90 minutes as Elvis Hammond broke clear for the umpteenth time, and was tripped by Jamie Collins just inside the area. A clear penalty, and the chance to snatch a dramatic win.

As Priory Lane held its breath, Raymond’s understruck spot kick was smothered by Ross Flitney at the foot of the right hand post.

But the save was tainted by the Eastleigh keeper’s antics twice advancing from his line just as Raymond was about to take the penalty, to question the placing of the ball. It was simple, shabby gamesmanship – with Flitney’s yellow card a cheap price to pay.

Jack Deaman slotted in impressively at left back, with Raymond and Matt Aldred holding the midfield. Chris Shephard and Stacy Long filled the wide berths, and Hammond and Darren Lok were given flexibility as central strikers.

Elvis, who combines body strength with quick feet, was getting good service and revelling in it, while Lok’s phenomenal pace repeatedly upset a ponderous Eastleigh back line:

Centre-back Chris Todd picked up a caution for crudely halting a Hammond run as the visitors began to look distinctly rattled, and then on 37 minutes Elvis broke clear and beat a desperately advancing Flitney, but his lobbed effort curled like a slow-motion replay inches wide of the left-hand post.

Five minutes later Flitney flapped at a high Raymond free-kick and Ian Simpemba lashed home the loose ball to give Borough a half-time lead.

On 67 minutes a bold triple substitution by Eastleigh manager Richard Hill turned the screw tighter, with former Sports favourite Yemi Odubade one of the players replaced. The equaliser came on 75 minutes, through a momentary but maddening Borough lapse. They switched off as Green’s quick free-kick set Stuart Fleetwood away down the left, and the big striker swivelled inside and crashed an awesome strike across a helpless Craig Ross into the far corner.

And so to the heart-stopping finale. As Priory Lane got its breath back, a draw seemed probably about right. But if Eastleigh do secure the Conference South title in the coming weeks, Borough will have matched the best in the division. And their own play-off chances remain very much alive.

Borough: Ross; Tallack, Simpemba, Watts, Deaman; Aldred, Raymond; Shephard (sub Rowe 86), Hammond, Lok, Long (sub Gorman 76). Unused subs: Levy, Worrall, Welch. MoM: Ian Simpemba

Att: 434