FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying

Eastleigh 6

(Ryan Bird x4, Andy Drury, James Constable)

North Leigh 0

Attendance: 889

Silverlake Stadium

The end of FA Cup qualifying his here and Non-League teams up and down the country have one last chance to make the First Round Proper. For some teams, they have already played five games to get to this stage. For others, they have entered at this round, hoping to make it through.

Having been to a game in each round so far, Eastleigh was my pick for this round and with a draw against North Leigh, two divisions below, a potential ‘Cupset’ may have been on the cards.

It was also my fourth game of the week and having seen goals galore I was hoping for more of the same.

The Ground

This is my second visit to the Silverlake Stadium this season, to read my comments on the National League ground visit ‘Travelling To-Eastleigh’.

Since my last visit, there have been more improvements made to the ground with the installation of a new scoreboard (pictured above).

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The Game

Ryan Bird hit four goals as Eastleigh prevented a potential cup upset with a thumping 6-0 victory over Southern League Division One South & West outfit North Leigh.

The tier eight side lasted ten minutes until Bird’s opener before he added a second 20 minutes later. Andy Drury made it 3-0 at the break before a second half Bird brace and a goal from James Constable completed the drubbing.

North Leigh ‘keeper Conor Thompson was at fault for Eastleigh’s first goal after ten minutes when he raced out to clear the ball, only for former Yeovil frontman Bird to get there first, rounding the ‘keeper to chip the ball into the net from a tight angle.

Eastleigh were having most of the ball but Jason Taylor couldn’t direct his shot on target as the Spitfires looked to double their advantage.

Bird grabbed his second of the afternoon on the half hour mark when Drury played a ball to former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron who whipped in a lovely ball to Bird who slid in to poke the ball in to complete a slick, attacking move.

Mandron then had a chance to get in on the scoring but Thompson managed to get his body in the way to keep the score at 2-0. Defender Reda Johnson then missed a sitter when he headed over from six yards.

As the first half injury time was announced, Andy Drury added a third with the pick of the bunch for the afternoon. Jai Reason had played a searching diagonal pass from just inside the attacking area and it landed to Drury, who took it first time on the volley, clipping the underside of the crossbar and over the line to round off a solid first half display.

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George Seacole had the first chance of the second half for the visitors but his glancing header was wide of the mark as it looked to be a losing battle for the Yellows.

Bird completed his hat trick on 53 minutes when he curled the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the area as the Spitfires started to run away with the result.

As the game approached one hour, North Leigh were reduced to ten men when winger Eric Odhiambo was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow for a rugby tackle on Jai Reason.

Drury nearly added his second of the game when he clipped in a ball towards goal but it was cleared off the line by Michael Hopkins.

If Ryan Bird wasn’t sure if he could keep the match ball, he made extra sure when he grabbed his fourth of the afternoon. The two Eastleigh substitutes combined as David Pipe crossed in a corner and James Constable sent a header towards goal and it bounced around the six-yard box before Bird slammed in from close range to make it 5-0.

Constable made it six with just under 20 minutes to go when he met Pipe’s cross at the near post to flick through the defenders legs and past a helpless Thompson.

As the game wound down, James Murphy had a good chance for the visitors to grab a consolation but after displaying some fancy footwork inside the area, ‘keeper Ryan Clarke was alert to beat the ball clear.

2016/17 Games: 40

2016/17 Grounds: 38

Total Grounds Visited: 173

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