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Match Reports

Notts 4-0 Eastleigh

Fine win in front of 4,942

14 March 2020

We ran out comprehensive winners against Eastleigh to record a fourth consecutive Vanarama National League victory and a fifth in all competitions.

Kyle Wootton netted the opener in the 15th minute and we continued to have the better of proceedings for the majority of the first half.

Following a bright start to the second period from the visitors, Kristian Dennis nodded home his third of the week to double our advantage and Wootton completed a brace shortly afterwards by rounding off a fine team move.

Cal Roberts got his name on the scoresheet for the third consecutive game with 20 to play.

On the back of Tuesday night's comeback win against Aldershot, Neal Ardley shuffled the pack again and made four changes to the team victorious in the week.

Connell Rawlinson, Richard Brindley and Joel Bagan returned to the back four, while Michael Doyle replaced Jim O'Brien in the centre of midfield and captained the side.

Dennis and Wootton continued in attack, while Roberts, Joe McDonnell, Alex Lacey, Mitch Rose and Enzio Boldewijn also kept their places.

Following good hold-up play by Wootton, the returning Bagan danced into the area to claim the first shot of the day on seven minutes but a number of ricochets saw his effort go behind.

The resulant corner was played in low to Dennis, who didn't catch his effort with as much power as he'd like and Eastleigh cleared to halfway. Bagan sent the ball back into the area, where it was flicked on by Rose and goalkeeper Max Stryjek was quickly off his line to deny Dennis another bite at the cherry.

Eastleigh spurned a fine opening to take the lead from their first corner of the afternoon, with Jack Payne's delivery picking out Tyrone Barnett on the six-yard line but the former Cheltenham striker headed wide.

Our big forward made no mistake with a heading opportunity of his own on 15, though. Roberts scurried up the right wing as we broke swiftly following an Eastleigh set piece and, although it looked to have been picked off by a visiting defender, his crossfield ball found its way to Dennis. Tuesday night's match-winner seized the chance to bend in a pinpoint cross to his strike partner and Wootton clinically headed home.

A switch in play from left to right almost led to a second five minutes later as Dennis returned the favour to Roberts. The winger cut inside Michael Green and looked to hammer home but got too much on his shot and it cleared the bar.

We continued to look the more likely as the half reached its midpoint, with Dennis firing wide from the edge of the box and Roberts calling Stryjek into action.

But the visitors began to grow into the game after the 30-minute mark and Danny Hollands had the next sight of goal when Joe Partington's cross found him in the area. He had to back-pedal to meet it, though, and couldn't keep the header down.

McDonnell's heart was in his mouth when he lost his footing as a loose ball rolled his way moments later but he was able to recover and claim it two yards from goal.

That seemed to spark us back into life and Dennis benefitted from a ricochet off Wootton on 37 minutes to bend an effort at goal, but he didn't set it out far enough and Stryjek made a comfortable save.

He had to be more alert to keep out Rose just seconds later, when Roberts' weighted pass released the midfielder in the area where a stepover or two took him into space. The keeper rushed out to meet him and closed the angle, making it harder for our number four.

Roberts was at the heart of most of our openings and had another pair after Dennis found him on 42. He went round the outside at the first time of asking but saw his shot blocked before regaining possession and cutting inside to see another shot charged down when he perhaps would've been better looking for a pass.

Payne's corner caused panic at the back but we smuggled the ball clear as two additional minutes were indicated, which passed by without incident. 

The visitors were sharper following the resumption and another set piece presented them with the first opening of the half but Andrew Boyce's header was well off target on 49.

Sam Smart's low cross was then diverted over by Cavaghn Miley as Eastleigh continued to press for an equaliser, but that was as close as they got to making it 1-1.

On 54 minutes, Doyle played a penetrative pass in to Roberts just outside the area and he ignored the overlapping run of Boldewijn, instead choosing to bend a right-footed cross to the back post where Dennis gobbled up the chance with a simple header.

Wootton's dangerous low cross was cleared and Boldewijn sent a free-kick well over as we looked to increase our lead, and we did so with 62 played.

Roberts spotted Rose's run off the ball and lifted a pass in behind the defence for the midfielder. When he got there he lifted his head up and saw Wootton in space just inside the area and picked him out perfectly, allowing the striker to slot home with a first-time finish.

Roberts wanted to get in on the act and his powerful shot was unorthodoxically saved by Stryjek with 65 minutes on the clock.

And he didn't have to wait much longer. He was afforded far too much time and space inside the D and used it to great effect, firing into the bottom corner to net his third in as many games.

Boldewijn drove at the Eastleigh defence before shooting narrowly over as he looked to add his name to the list of scorers.

Four to the good, Ardley took the opportunity to freshen things up and sent Wes Thomas and Tom Crawford on in place of Dennis and Rose on 72 minutes.

We almost made it five just moments later as Stryjek replicated McDonnell's slip from earlier in the game and Boldewijn looked set to capitalise, but the keeper recovered to make a sliding challenge.

Our stopper was then called into action by Green, who got forward from left back to shoot from a tight angle, but McDonnell parried clear.

Scott Wilson replaced Roberts with 12 minutes left to play and Crawford's body feint helped him work room for a shot that Stryjek turned behind moments later.

Three minutes were added on for stoppages, during which Boyce was booked for a coming together with Boldewijn, but there was little else to report before the referee called time on a fantastic day's work. 


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