Winchester City 1 Eastleigh 3
Winchester lost their final pre-season match before their league campaign begins on Saturday at home to Bideford, while Monday's opponents Eastleigh do not start their league campaign until two weeks later.
The match was very much an end to end affair and Eastleigh played first team squad members Sam Smart, Tom Blair and Dan Smith plus new signing from Chesterfield Tom Whelan and goalkeeping coach Ross Flitney who has made almost 100 football league appearances during the course of his career. Some people may remember Whelan as the player who scored the winning goal for Salisbury on this ground in a thrilling match that finished 5-4, while Smart'has provided man of the match performances for Eastleigh on several occasions ns, so although Eastleigh fielded a fairly young team they had a fair amount of experience in their ranks.
Eastleigh have a good academy system and Winchester players Ollie Griggs and Joe Hayward were at one time part of this. The Eastleigh team also had Tom Bragg and Dan Bradshaw who played for Winchester last season, while Charlie Philpott who played in goal for Winchester is also on Eastleigh's books. There are several other people who have had a link with both clubs.
Early on Eastleigh applied a lot of pressure and forced a few corners, but Winchester began to very much come into the game. Ollie Balmer shot over from a free kick, but both Max Smith and Greg Peel forced saves from Flitney, with Jamie Barron's follow up shot from Smith's effort being blocked.
Winchester however did take the lead in the 16th minute when Peel set up Balmer and after the goal Simba Mlambo came close to adding a second. Eastleigh did took threatening at times even if their shooting was not always of the best quality, but there was no lack of quality about Tom Whelan's excellently struck equalizer from outside the penalty area in the 32nd minute
After the goal Balmer and and Peel forced good saves from Flitney while at the other end Kieron Douglas kept out Sam Smart at the expense of a corner and the Winchester defence had to be on their toes as Eastleigh looked threatening on several occasions and it was a surprise that this lively encounter had pr produced only two first half goals. Right at the end of the half Ollie Balmer had a shot cleared off the line
Eastleigh again started the second half briefly, but both goalkeepers were tested before in the 56th minute Eastleigh took the lead with a triallist finishing an excellent team move with Tom Blair setting up the triallist to score.
The match continued to produce great entertainment value and Winchester were very unlucky not to score when they hit the underside of the bar and both goalkeepers were kept active. However Eastleigh score the decisive third goal in the 84th minute when Sam Smart arrived at the pack post to score and after that Winchester kept going, but they had too much to do, but it was a good workout for them against a team whose first team play three divisions higher than themselves.