Vanarama National League
Hartlepool United 1-2 Eastleigh
Munns 90 Howe 48 Yeates 52
Early second-half goals from Callum Howe and Mark Yeates was enough to gift Eastleigh a deserved win over Hartlepool United yesterday and make the 600 mile round-trip worthwhile for the 68 travelling fans. Howe took the lead from close range after the hosts failed to defend a corner successfully before Mark Yeates beat Scott Loach with a brilliant volley into the bottom-left corner. Substitute Jack Munns gave the hosts some hope going into injury time driving the ball past Stack in the bottom-right corner but it was too little too late for Craig Harrison’s side.
It was a poor start to the game for both sides, and it wasn’t until the 32nd minute that there was even an attempt at goal. Hartlepool had two corners defended easily in the opening half-hour, and the first chance came when Michael Woods linked up well with Ryan Donaldson and the latter’s shot went over the bar.
Donaldson began to look lively for the hosts. He worked well on the right-hand side four minutes after his first attempt but his good ball into the box wasn’t met by a Hartlepool forward.
Hartlepool’s vulnerability at the back was clearly demonstrated in the 39th minute when James Constable found space at the far post. His header was just kept out by Loach but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as he was offside.
Shortly before half time, Chris Zebroski cut through on the right-hand side for the visitors but his effort went over the bar.
Eastleigh had the dream start after the break as it only took them just three minutes to take the lead. An impressive Chris Zebroski free kick forced a good save from Loach, and Callum Howe netted past the former Watford keeper on the end of the resultant corner.
Their lead nearly lasted just a minute, as Rhys Oates headed just wide of the mark on the end of Nicky Deverdics’ cross.
Eastleigh continued to threaten the hosts however and Chris Zebroski would’ve most likely scored in the 50th minute had there not been an excellent last ditch clearance on the end of Gary McSheffrey’s ball into the box at the far post.
The visitors inevitably doubled their lead two minutes later. Hartlepool’s defence appeared half asleep, and this allowed Mark Yeates to volley the ball in the bottom-left corner from long range with a spectacular finish that Loach could do absolutely nothing to keep out.
Eastleigh appeared to sit back following the goal, and Hartlepool had the ball in their half for most of the time. Devante Rodney came on as a sub for Hartlepool and looked lively. The 19-year-old found himself one-on-one with Graham Stack after a good ball from Nicky Featherstone but his effort was blocked by the keeper.
Moments later, Rodney played a good ball through to fellow striker Connor Simpson. Rodney’s fellow youngster attempted to lob the keeper but his effort went over.
Mark Yeates almost put the visitors 3-0 up but his effort went just over the bar.
Jack Munns had quite an impact after coming on as a sub for Hartlepool. In the 83rd minute the midfielder had a shot on the edge of the box go just over following a corner, and then he scored seven minutes later burying the ball in the bottom-right corner past Stack.
There were four minutes of added time so it looked as though it was going to be an exciting finish. Hartlepool’s fans appeared frustrated as a lapse in concentration meant that Eastleigh’s Sam Matthews made a brilliant run forward for the visitors and his shot was blocked and out for a corner before which the visitors began to time-waste.
Pools’ last chance of the game came in the third minute of added time. With Jonathan Franks in plenty of space on the right-hand side, Rodney decided to have a go himself rather than give Franks the ball and his effort didn’t trouble Graham Stack as it came straight at him.
Eastleigh’s win means that they move up to 15th in the National League whilst Pools drop to 17th.
Hartlepool United: Loach, Magnay, Laing, Donnelly, Deverdics, Donaldson (Munns 77), Woods, Featherstone, Franks, Hawkins (Rodney 58), Oates (Simpson 54).
Subs not used: Adams and Richardson
Eastleigh: Stack, Obileye, Howe, Boyce, Wood, Hollands (Strevens 68), Yeates (Matthews 77), Miley, Constable, Zebroski (McAllister 72), McSheffrey.
Subs not used: Reid and Stearn.
Attendance: 3,374 (68 away)