MATCH REPORT | Wrexham 0-1 Eastleigh AET (Play-Off Eliminator)

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Thu 02 May 2019

Wrexham's playoff campaign fell at the first hurdle at the Racecourse in midweek as a Danny Hollands wonder strike in extra-time sent the Spitfires through to the semi-final.

In a tense affair throughout an extra half an hour was required with neither sideable to break the deadlock, and a moment of magic from the Eastleigh captain was the decider. Wrexham must now wait at least another year in their bid to return to the EFL.

Key players for Bryan Hughes' side returned after being rested on the final day against Harrogate including skipper Shaun Pearson and goalkeeper Rob Lainton. 

In a cagey start to the game both sides looked to ease into the encounter, with chances coming at a premium in the early exchanges. The visitors had a corner cleared at the first attempt whilst the Dragons' first foray into the Eastleigh box came from a James Jennings cross which Bobby Grant couldn't quite stretch to. The Dragons got their first shot away on 10 minutes as Stuart Beavon picked up the ball in the middle of the park before striking from distance over the bar. After a half chance the visitors responded in kind, with a cross from the right finding the head of Ben Williamson, who's effort was saved by Rob Lainton.

Minutes later Wrexham won a free-kick down the left which was delivered by Jennings, after an initial clearance the ball took an age to drop for Grant who's venomous volley was intercepted. On 18 minutes after Wrexham had flirted with the Spitfires box the visitors made inroads down the right channel and guided a cross into the Wrexham box, but Reda Johnson's header sailed over the bar when he really should have scored.

Eastleigh goalkeeper Luke Southwood was called into action for the first time just before the half-hour mark when Lainton's long ball dropped in the opposition box and Beavon's half-volley was smartly saved. On 34 minutes Luke Young made an excellent interception in the Eastleigh half before striking a low drive from 30-yards, the tricky shot decieved the keeper who could only claim it at the second attempt.

Once again Eastleigh responded to the Wrexham chances, as a cross from the left by Mike Green tested Lainton as Paul McCallum's header looked destined for goal. Lainton was called into action 60 seconds later with Mark Yeates driving down the wing and unleashing a thunderous effort at goal, with the Wrexham keeper making a flying save.

In the final minute of the first 45 Grant was fouled by Johnson in the middle of the park, with the Dragons forward taking it quickly, feeding it to the left where Jenning's cross was met by Akil Wright, his effort being saved well. 

A minute was added on by the fourth official as Stuart Beavon was brought down to the right of the box, and Grant's free kick was eventually cleared following several duals.

Half-Time: Wrexham 0-0 Eastleigh

Wrexham started brightly in the second half with a host of oppurtunities, with the first chance of note falling to Wright who dragged a long range shot wide. Wrexham followed that up with tenacious work from Grant forcing Johnson to concede a corner when given no other option, but the floated ball in was held by the keeper.

On 53 minutes Wrexham almost took the lead, Jennings' cross deflected for a corner which Young stood over, his zipping ball in was met by Shaun Pearson who's bullett header slammed the bar, with Kieran Kennedy's follow up going wide. The Dragons crancked up the pressurre winning yet another corner this time time finding the back of the net, Young's corner saw the keeper spill the ball and hit the deck, and Kennedy struck home. However, the referee adjudged it to be a foul and silenced the celebrations. 

Just after the hour mark Wrexham stepped it up a gear, with a fantastic piece of play down the left resulting in Jennings crossing from the byline and the ball dropping awkwardly, Wright flung himself out of the way for Grant to swing a volley with his back to goal with the resulting effort clipping the roof of the bar.

With ten remaining the game began to open up with some good football being played by both sides, but neither goalkeeper was called into action for the most part. Wrexham had their hearts in their mouths with two to go, as Danny Hollands' low drive brushed wide with Lainton beat. 

Into injury time Grant found himself in possesion down the right beating hoards of defenders to reach the edge of the box but fired his effort over the bar. With neither side able to make a breakthrough, it went to extra-time.

Full-Time (After 90 minutes): Wrexham 0-0 Eastleigh

The first chance of extra-time fell to Eastleigh with  Yeates crossing and Zebroski's header spilt by Lainton, who recovered to stop any rebound. The Reds responded with a header of their own moments later with Roberts deep cross being headed over by Jason Oswell. 

Winger Jermaine McGlashan made an immediete mark on the game when he beat a defender down the wing and one on one had his powerful strike saved well by Southwell.

13 mibutes into stoppage time a Wrexham corner was directed towards goal by Pearson but as the keeper held it a fracas broke out with both sides getting heated. The officials held a conference in the box to disect the mele resulting in a yellow card for Eastleigh's Johnson and Pearson and Kennedy for the Dragons.

In stoppage time of the first period of extra-time a McKnight free kick deflected for a corner, which lead to the eventual breakthrough. Swung in it was cleared by Pearson before a wonder strike by Danny Hollands hit the top corner to break the deadlock.

Extra-Time Half-Time: Wrexham 0-1 Eastleigh

In the second period Wrexham flew out of the blocks with Holroyd winning  a corner within seconds, but Eastleigh stood strong to defend. Continued waves from the Dragons had the visitors on the backfoot as a yet another corner was put into the box, this time Pearson's goal bound header was cleared off the line. 

Chasing the game late on a ball from the right deflected over from an Oswell header whilst the Spitfires contuined to stand tall at the back. With a corner in the dying minutes and goalkeeper Lainton up, Kevin Roberts' powerful headed effort was once more cleared off the line by the away side. A succesion of crosses into the Eastleigh box followed but Wrexham couldn't find a breakthrough, seeing Eastleigh into the next stage.


Wrexham Line-Up: Lainton, Roberts, Kennedy, Pearson (c), Jennings, Young, Summerfield (Rutherford 51), Wright, Holroyd, Beavon (Oswell 71), Grant (McGlashan ET 9)

Unused Wrexham Substitutes: Dibble, Carrington. 

Eastleigh Line-Up: Southwood, Hare (McKnight 79), Johnson, Boyce, Wynter, Green, Jones (Gobern 72), Hollands (c), Yeates (Matthews ET 9), Williamson (Zebroski 79), McCallum

Unused Eastleigh Substitutes; Miley,

Referee: Martin Woods

Wrexham Bookings: Kennedy, Pearson.

Eastleigh Bookings: Hare, Jones, Johnson

Attendance: 6,723 (148 away)

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