On Friday night, in front of the BBC cameras, Eastleigh and Swindon played out an entertaining 1-1 draw. Neither side will really be happy with the draw but they’ll take it over a defeat, Eastleigh will be especially frustrated considering how they came so close to winning the game.
The first half began brightly for the home side, when Luke Coulson – admired by many clubs around the country – cut inside onto his right foot before unleashing a shot which was saved fairly comfortably by the ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Just a few minutes later, another chance came the way of the home side, more good work from Coulson on the wing, who laid the ball off for Mike Green to cross first time before Mikael Mandron miscued horribly allowing the score to remain deadlocked at 0-0.
Even less time elapsed before the hosts’ next chance, a scramble in Swindon’s box ended up with the ball at the feet of Jake Howells, who brought another decent save out of Vigouroux, before Reda Johnson, formerly of Sheffield Wednesday, was adjudged to be in an offside position.
Swindon managed to push their way into the game and their first chance came in similar fashion to the one of Luke Coulson earlier on in the half, as Luke Norris tested the agility of veteran goalkeeper, Ryan Clarke, once of Swindon’s rivals, Oxford.
A change of shape then came as a result of an injury to skipper Nathan Thompson, who limped off after having seemed to have pulled his hamstring.
Clarke then made an absolutely sensational save from Norris, a free-kick by on-loan Queens Park Rangers midfielder Michael Doughty found it’s way to Norris, who’s goal-bound header was miraculously clawed off the line by the goalkeeper – however, there was an argument the ball went over the line.
After that, the half fizzled out with chances quite few and far between, but with Swindon ending the half as the better side. The sides went in all square.
The second half started off at a much slower pace than the first and not many chances were created and the first was a shot by Yaser Kasim but Eastleigh kept out the Iraqi international as they continued to keep the influential playmaker quiet.
The very next chance brought the first goal of the game. A brilliant whipped free-kick met the head of the troublesome Mandron, who used his power and height to get above is marker and head beyond Vigouroux to give his side the lead.
That lead would last less than five minutes as Swindon responded well, Doughty, who was a menace all evening, drew a foul from Ryan Clarke and the goalkeeper escaped with only a yellow card but was left picking the ball out of the back of his net as Doughty struck past him to make it 1-1.
Again chances were at a premium, though. With 15 minutes to go, James Constable’s weak shot was easily held by the goalkeeper as Eastleigh tried to retake the lead. Swindon nearly took the lead themselves when Nathan Delfouneso’s shot was brilliantly blocked at the other end.
A pot shot was the closest either side came to winning the game until added time, when substitute Ayo Obileye’s shot was kept off the line by a Swindon man.
That ensured that both of these teams enter the hat for Monday’s second round draw, with replays to be played on the week commencing 14th November.