FA Cup First Round Proper
Swindon Town 1
My FA Cup run is still intact and I ended up revisiting the scene of my fourth round qualifying match, the Silverlake Stadium. After Eastleigh’s 6-0 thumping of North Leigh last month, the Spitfires were rewarded with a home tie with League One outfits Swindon Town.
Although the BBC had picked it for their TV game, the Friday night was a perfect setting for a proper FA Cup encounter, I was hoping for a cracker and despite the low score, it had all the drama.
Swindon came from behind to force a replay with Non-League outfit Eastleigh thanks to a penalty by Michael Doughty.
The game was goalless for the best part of an hour but Mikael Mandron’s opener was cancelled out by Doughty’s spot kick five minutes later.
Eastleigh looked sharp from the off and Luke Coulson forced a good save from ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux when he cut inside from the left wing.
Coulson, fresh from an England C training camp was causing all sorts of problems on the flank and his ball into the box nearly resulted in the opener but Vigouroux was alert to block Connor Essam’s shot before James Constable headed the rebound wide.
Despite Ronnie Moore’s men having the better early chances, Swindon were adamant they had put the ball over the line when Luke Norris fired an unmarked header at Ryan Clarke’s goal. Clarke had made an acrobatic save but the Robins players claimed the ball had crossed the line, video highlights show that they were unlucky to have not been given the goal.
Moments earlier Michael Doughty had fired a free kick curling against the cross bar before the ball back in resulted in Norris’ ghost goal.
In the second half it was a more even encounter and Eastleigh stayed firm despite Iraq international Yaser Kasim breaking into the box only to be thwarted at the last moment by a combination of Jason Taylor and David Pipe.
The home side did take the lead on 64 minutes when former Sunderland frontman Mandron rose highest above Lloyd Jones to nod Jake Howells’ venomous free kick into the bottom corner sending the home supporters into a frenzy behind the goal.
Swindon replied in perfect fashion five minutes later when first half sub John Goddard played a nice ball into Doughty in the box and as he ran towards goal was felled by Clarke resulting in a yellow card for the ‘keeper and a penalty.
Doughty, on loan from QPR, stepped up and placed his spot kick into the bottom corner despite Clarke guessing the right way.
With a replay looking to be a fair reflection on how the two teams performed, Eastleigh thought they had nicked it at the end through substitute Ayo Obileye but his thunderous strike inside the box was cleared off the line by a perfectly placed Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill.
Both sides will meet again in a replay at the County ground on the 15th November.
2016/17 Games: 54
2016/17 Grounds: 42
Total Grounds Visited: 177