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Yemi an instant hit for Spitfires
YEMI Odubade will doubtless score infinitely more spectacular goals for his new club Eastleigh in the Skrill Conference South.
But the importance of Saturday’s predatory close-range finish could not be over-emphasised as Richard Hill’s Spitfires made a winning 1-0 start to the campaign at the expense of Paul Doswell’s Sutton United, writes WENDY GEE.
Truth to tell, it wasn’t the most gripping of spectacles for the 682 crowd. With both Eastleigh and Sutton fancied to be among the title contenders, two of the division’s big fish cancelled each other out for long periods.
But Hill’s decision to interrupt his summer holiday in the south of France to sign Odubade following his release from Gateshead paid instant dividends as the 29-year-old snaffled the winner after 26 minutes.
Fellow summer signing Ben Strevens forced a corner on the left and, although Sutton dealt with Jai Reason’s initial delivery, they had not reckoned on what happened next. The ball came back to Reason on the byline and the skilful No10 flicked it over a defender before whipping in a low cross-cum-shot, leaving Odubade to net a poacher’s finish.
The Thamesmead-based former Yeovil, Oxford United and Stevenage hitman, who began his career with Eastbourne Town, admitted: “Jai flicked the ball over someone, fizzed the ball across and I was there to tap it in. It was harder to miss!
“Being the first game of the season, it was always going to be hectic and fast-paced, but it was good to get three points on the board. I’m sure the fans would be happy with 1-0 every game as long as we win.
“We’ve got a strong team here with lots of experience and, fingers crossed, we can do good things this season and be successful. We’ve got a lot of attacking flair and the most important thing is to stay fit.”
Eastleigh, though, were shorn of two certain starters on Saturday.
Having lost midfielder Will Evans to a knee injury in pre-season, defensive linchpin Chris Todd pulled out with hamstring trouble just prior to kick-off.
Sutton suffered problems in the warm-up too with ex-Spitfires targetman Jamie Slabber ruled out with injury.
With Todd sidelined, former Christchurch defender Chris Dillon played alongside the outstanding Dean Beckwith in the heart of the Eastleigh defence and it said much for the strength of their partnership that keeper Ross Flitney scarcely had a save to make.
Odubade should have scored 15 minutes before he did but, having been expertly picked out at the far post by Stuart Fleetwood, he skied his first-time shot over.
Class act Strevens then cut inside and fired just wide before Odubade made ample amends. Try as they might, Sutton rarely looked like wiping out that lead before the break. The second half, though, was a different story with Dillon forced to bring down Us summer signing Jamie Taylor at the expense of a booking as the former Lincoln City man threatened to dart clean through the heart of the Spitfires defence.
Eastleigh responded with a spate of corners, but it wasn’t until the 76th minute that a dour game livened up again when Craig McAllister – on for Odubade – headed Reason’s flag kick wide.
Sutton perked up following the arrival of substitute Dean McDonald and caused flutters in the Eastleigh defence, but nothing to seriously bother an under-employed Flitney.
It was the Spitfires who went closest to scoring again in the 81st minute when Fleetwood played in McAllister. The substitute delivered an inch-perfect pass to Reason who was denied by Tom Lovelock’s point-blank save.
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