March 2, 2015
EASTLEIGH 4. V. 0. MACCLESFIELD TOWN
Eastleigh rebooted their home form and continued to show their Vanarama Conference play-off credentials by drubbing high-fliers Macclesfield Town 4-0 in front of a record-breaking 4,126 crowd at the Silverlake Stadium today.
Jai Reason was in superb fettle and was influential in creating the first two goals before scoring an absolute beauty of his own to make it 3-0 on the hour.
The Spitfires had lost three, won one and drawn one on Stoneham Lane in 2015, but put that behind them against Mac, who started the day in third and had been unbeaten in six games, on a historic day.
It saw them smash their previous attendance record of 2,621, that was set against Bristol Rovers earlier this season, in front of the BT Sport television cameras.
Thierry Audel, on his return to the Silkmen after two years away, marked his second debut in calamitous fashion as he netted an own goal on 12 minutes for the first.
James Constable scored his 14th Conference goal on 54 minutes before Reason’s superb third and substitute Deon Burton’s fourth with 12 minutes to play.
Eastleigh made one change from their 1-0 win at Chester, with Craig McAllister coming in up-front for the benched Jack Midson.
Mac welcomed back England C defender Andy Halls from suspension while injured captain Paul Turnbull was the most significant absentee. Left-back Scott Barrow also missed out.
The visitors were passing it around nicely early on and subsequently had the first shot as Paul Lewis ballooned a ball across by Danny Whittaker into the car park.
But it was the Spitfires that took the early lead. A superb Reason free-kick on the left flank found Harry Pell in a packed box.
The towering midfielder headed the ball in the direction of the goal, but it took a deflection off Audel before settling in the net as Pell wielded away, celebrating in front of the packed newly-opened Mackoy Community Stand.
The away team looked to get level straight away, but Danny Rowe blazed an effort in the box well over the bar.
At the other end Constable was brought down in the box by keeper Rhys Taylor, but his penalty appeals were waved away by referee Robert Whitton.
Taylor then saved well from a powerful Reason shot in the box.
It seemed Macclesfield were targeting the BT Sport cameraman on top of the stand behind the goal instead of the actual target as Rowe again smashed over the bar from long range.
Eastleigh were sustaining periods of possession as the half-hour approached and looked unfazed at the back.
Dan Spence, having headed away crucially to avoid Matthew Barnes-Homer getting the ball in the box earlier on, was looking particularly capable.
The Silkmen closed out a frustrating half as Lee Bell hit a 20-yard free-kick over the bar after former Eastleigh player Alex Grant had been fouled.
It was a slow start to the second period with much of the play caught up in a midfield battle.
It sprung back into life as the Spitfires produced their first skirmish forward of the match, as Reason delivered another outstanding ball into the box.
The number 10 picked up his cleared corner, took a touch and delivered a dangerous cross to the back post.
In a crowd of players McAllister was able to knock a header into the path of his strike partner Constable.
The ex-Oxford United man, who battled hard all match, took a touch before rasping into the net from the left, just outside the six-yard box to make it 2-0.
Moments later, Constable had the ball in the net again as he polished off a glorious team move, but he was flagged offside.
Eastleigh did get their third on the hour mark.
This was a special finish. Reason, who was influential in the first two goals, took centre stage.
He picked up the ball on the left and took a couple of touches, looking up to pick his spot, before pulling off a wonderful curling, chipped shot that soared over the outstretched arm of Taylor and into the top right of the net. Sublime.
Eastleigh put the icing on an excellent performance on 78 minutes as Constable squared to substitute Deon Burton, the veteran striker who arrived in January, to slot home his second for the club from close range.
In fairness to a shell-shocked Macclesfield, they didn’t give up. They had their best chance of the match late on but Barnes-Homer skewed painfully wide as he latched onto a ball into the box.
Eastleigh: Flitney, Spence, Green, Beckwith (c), Stanley, Constable, Reason (Howard 78), McAllister (Burton 65), Strevens (Walker 65), Partington, Pell. Subs not used: Todd, Midson.