Football: Didcot Town 0-1 Eastleigh

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Danny Hollands’ close-range strike proved to be the difference as Eastleigh Football Club edged out hosts Didcot Town at Loop Meadow.

The result gives the Spitfires their second consecutive victory on the road in pre-season after Richard Hill’s side opened their 2017/18 National League season preparations by dispatching Basingstoke Town 4-0 on Tuesday evening.

The away side missed two early chances as Paul McCallum fired narrowly wide and Mark Yeates’ heavy touch prevented him from capitalising after being put through on goal.

Chris Zebroski did well to round Didcot goalkeeper Leigh Bedwell shortly afterwards, but the ex-Swindon Town shot-stopper recovered the situation as the Eastleigh forward struggled back to his feet and missed the target.

In a match of few clear-cut chances, Yeates was also left frustrated after cutting in on his right foot and firing an effort over the crossbar.

Didcot’s defensive resolve, led by an inspired Sam Elkins at right-back, was finally broken shortly before half-time.

After Yeates’ ball was left hanging in the air by Didcot’s back four, Hollands was allowed enough space to turn on the spot before powering an effort past Bedwell to score his first goal for the club following his move on a free transfer this summer.

Eastleigh made three changes at the break as Ben Strevens, Jason Taylor and Ross Stearn came on to replace Yeates, Sam Togwell and Reda Johnson.

Didcot started the second half in lively fashion and nearly leveled the score after new signing Seth Humphries released Lewis Joyce through on goal, but with the Spitfires defence on his heels Joyce failed to convert the opening, angling his shot straight at Graham Stack.

Ross Stearn looked to cement his early pre-season form after cutting inside on the hour mark, but he failed to add to the brace scored at Basingstoke earlier in the week after his shot fired wide of the near post.

Eastleigh then switched to three at the back as McCallum and Hollands made way for experienced forwards Craig McAllister and James Constable. Returning ‘keeper Ross Flitney completed the changes for the visiting side with a little over quarter of an hour to play.

Constable fired an effort over after McAllister’s shot was blocked with five minutes to play as Eastleigh concluded an accomplished performance with a well-earned victory.

The National League side continue their pre-season fixture list away to Blackfield and Langley on Tuesday [18th July] at 19:00.

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Sport Editor at the Wessex Scene. Often found in the racing paddocks of the UK as a freelance national motorsport journalist or PR. Self-titled comedic genius, notorious wearer of Union-branded clothing.

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