Hamblin strikes as City turn fortunes around
Gloucester City 1
A LITTLE over a week ago Gloucester City lost at Droylsden, had a man sent off for ill-discipline and were staring at a long hard season – it is amazing what a difference eight days can make.
Since then a change in system and personnel has yielded a 5-1 league victory and a win yesterday that booked the Tigers a place in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
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Expensively assembled Eastleigh were poor second relations to the tenacious Tigers, who to coin a rugby phrase edged it in possession but dominated at the breakdown.
City bossed it in midfield as Tom Webb and the excellent Bristol Rovers loanee Jordan Goddard proved to be a constant ball-winning menace that allowed playmaker Lewis Hogg to do just that.
After a spell of early sparring, City grabbed the only goal on 11 minutes when Lewis Hogg struck free-kick goalwards from 25 yards and Spitfires goalkeeper Jack Dovey spilled the ball.
Tom Hamblin, showing the predatory touch that is enveloping his game at the moment, reacted first to the rebound and slotted the ball home for his fourth goal of the season.
Steve Davies came close to doubling the lead three minutes later, but his clever flick from a Darren Edwards cross was easily saved by Dovey.
Eastleigh did their best to get back into the game, but with City's midfield three dominating the scraps, chances were hard to come by.
Dale Binns headed into the side netting from a poorly-cleared corner and the same player raced clear for the Spitfires best chance six minutes from the break, but his low shot was saved by Mike Green.
Green would have had no chance had Jai Reason's 56th-minute header been on target, but after being set up perfectly by Craig McAllister, the former Braintree striker headed tamely over the top.
The introduction of Moses Ademola served to wake the visitors up as City retreated into their shell.
First Ademola fired over after a jinking run on 78 minutes before setting up Reason to roll a tame shot into Green's arms four minutes later.
Then Eastleigh's Mike Green – one of three men of the same name on the same pitch – fired wide from distance as the visitors threw the proverbial kitchen sink at it to try and earn a replay.
But City held on and will hope for a friendly draw in today's fourth qualifying round draw as they look to end their 23-year exile from the competition proper.
Gloucester City: MJ Green; T Hamblin, M Coupe, C Holland; MF Green, T Webb, J Goddard, L Hogg, S Davies; D Edwards, M Harding (J Harris, 50). Subs not used: S Rawlings, M Liddiard, J Tillson, A Mann, J Parker, N Mustoe.
Eastleigh: J Dovey; O Sankofa, A Forbes, T Jordan, M Green; D Scannell (M Adamola 66), M Hughes, G Southam, D Binns (78 M Williams); J Reason, C McAllister. Subs not used: L Anderson, M Nelson, G Elphick, A Everitt, C Flood,.
Referee: Sarah Garrett