The visiting side had the better chances across what was an evenly-contested, often low tempo affair, but Jason Prior spurned a great opportunity to win the game for Wanderers late on after seeing his penalty kick saved by keeper Joe McDonnell. Marc White was able to bring George Francomb and Jason Prior back into the starting line-up as Bobby-Joe Taylor and Ryan Seager made way, two of three changes made from the side which started in the defeat to Woking on Bank Holiday Monday. The other switch saw Dan Pybus come in to make his first start for Wanderers, replacing Dan Gallagher who was ruled out of the matchday squad with a swollen ankle.
Chris Maguire was at the heart of Eastleigh’s forward play as the Spitfires began the game brighter, the former Oxford City and Sunderland man floating across the front-line and carving out early opportunities for The Spitfires to take an early lead. The Scotsman’s cross from the left came agonisingly close to finding Aidan Barlow in the middle of the six yard box before a measured through ball from deep released Charlie Carter right down the middle of the Wanderers defence, Male getting out well from his goal to make a timely intervention. Scott Quigley did have the ball in the back of the Wandererers net shortly afterwards but was adjudged to have shoved his marker before planting the header home, the goal swiftly ruled out by referee Dale Baines.
Despite having the better chances, the run of possession was fairly even through the opening exchanges, Wanderers headway in the final third often dealt with by debuting defender Trent Rendell, the man on loan from QPR doing a solid job of keeping Prior quiet in the box. ‘JP9’ did manage to get a head to the ball and clip the frame of the goal approaching the midway point of the half, Bowerman meeting the rebound but unable to keep the effort below the bar though, blazing over the top. Not long after Wanderers were handed another injury blow as Luke Moore came out worse in a challenge with Carter in the middle of the park, after a period of treatment Moore left the field to be replaced by Bobby-Joe Taylor, taking up position wide right as Niall McManus moved into central midfield. Bobby-Joe immediately set about raising
Wanderers urgency in getting forward, lashing an effort wide of the top left corner just moments after entering the field of play, the wing-back then combining with McShane to try and find Prior at the back post, McManus this time the recipiant of the ball as it spilled out but like Bowerman earlier in the half, not able to keep the ball down. Just before the interval Male produced a good reaction save to deny Carter at close range, Quigley then picking up a through ball which sliced down the middle of the Wanderers shape, the striker turning at the edge of the box but dragging his low effort narrowly wide of the post. Into six added minutes at the end of the first half, caused by a very early injury to Lee Hodson as well as Moore, Bowerman took aim for the top right bins after digging out an effort from the edge of the box, the ball flying just over.
Bowerman and Bobby-Joe Taylor led a fast start from Wanderers after the interval, the latter pulling an effort wide before delivering a firmly struck cross towards McManus on the far side of the area, the midfielder just not able to get over the top of the ball though as it came in at pace and only able to direct his header off target. With the sunshine and the heat baring down as it had done from kick off, fatigue was starting to effect the game more notably beyond the hour mark as play remained fairly even but chances at both ends became increasingly speculative.
The lively Bobby-Joe would again blast a couple of efforts wide of goal, Spitfires skipper Jake Taylor going close up the other end arriving onto the ball in the middle of the box and lashing wide before standing up a cross for Carter to nod over at the back stick. Approaching the final ten minutes Wanderers were presented with an opportunity to make the breakthrough; Prior brought to ground by just-introduced sub Nigel Atangana inside the box, referee Baines quick to point to the penalty spot. Prior himself stepped up, but saw his low effort saved by McDonnell who got down well to his left hand side.
Late pressure in the game came from Eastleigh as Quigley headed wide of the back post and Maguire drilled a strike through to Male amidst a flurry of shots flying in from range, but ultimately neither team could find a match-winning goal, and the spoils were shared. Marc White expressed his natural disappointment in the penalty miss post-match and acknowledged his side needed that bit more quality in the final third overall. Also noting that his side were ‘too open for my liking’, the manager also accepted that Eastleigh had created the better chances on the balance of play, a draw probably the right result on reflection.
The positive of a first clean sheet of the season gives Wanderers something to build on at the start of the new month with back-to-back away fixtures against Oldham Athletic and FC Halifax Town next up. Dan Stobbart