Blue Square Conference South
Saturday 5 January 2007 - Silverlake Stadium - kick off 3.00pm
half-time: 1-3 result: D4-4 attendance: 628

team: Evans, G Jones (Simpson 58), Rollo (c), Coupe, Holland, S Jones, Rogers (Wood 45), Harris, Edwards (Partridge 70), Gilroy, McKay. subs not used: Keddle, Walsh.
man of the match: Dave Gilroy
scorers: Gilroy (pen 22, 86, pen 89), Holland (65)
bookings: Harris (75)
dismissal: Wood (61)
officials: M McLaughlin (Luton), B Christie (Bracknell), M Walton (Loughborough)

league position: 4th form: LdDWWD next match: Sutton (A)

Report taken from

Kevin Keegan, who played his football a few miles from Eastleigh's Silverlake Stadium during his Southampton days, would no doubt have looked on approvingly as two of Blue Square South's play-off rivals served up an absolute thriller that will live long in the memory of the 600 or so lucky souls who witnessed it. On a day when the third round of the FA Cup provided all the drama on a national level, Bath City and Eastleigh played out a real epic in which the script was torn up on several occasions. Eight goals, two penalties, a red card, a hat-trick hero, a brilliant free-kick and some non-existent defending - if ever a game 'had the lot' then this was it. City fans who have become accustomed to seeing their side grind out results away from home with maximum efficiency could hardly believe their eyes. Kamikaze play from a back-line that went into the game as the meanest in the division looked to have handed the points to an Eastleigh side on the fringes of the play-off zone. But, while their defensive capabilities deserted them, City's never-say-die spirit was never in question and they somehow salvaged something from a seemingly lost cause. That they did so with 10 men on the pitch following substitute Jason Wood's red card on the hour makes a remarkable scoreline even more so.

Dave Gilroy epitomised City's strength of character as he kept believing up front and was eventually rewarded with his second hat-trick for the club, scoring his final two goals in a frenzied three-minute spell in the closing stages. The striker's late flourish stole the thunder of the game's outstanding performer and probably the best opposition player City have come up against this season. The pacy Mark Marshall netted twice for the hosts and terrorised the visiting defence throughout, with the normally dependable Gethin Jones suffering at his hands more than most. Incredibly, on the evidence of last Saturday, Marshall is not deemed good enough to hold down a place in a Grays team currently languishing in mid-table obscurity in Blue Square Premier, prompting his recent loan switch to the Hampshire side. He had already skinned Jones twice before the full-back decided to hand out the first of a couple of late Christmas presents to the Eastleigh attack with the game less than 10 minutes old. Andy Forbes, who gave Jim Rollo a tough time on the opposite flank, floated the ball across and Jones ignored the basic, safety first rule of defending and mis-controlled as he attempted to trap it inside his own six-yard box, allowing Paul Sales the simplest of finishes past Paul Evans. Sales' opener should have given fans an inkling of the goal fest that was to follow as the ponytailed frontman had scored for opponents Salisbury in each of City's previous two 4-4 draws back in 2000. Things got even worse for the away side when they fell further behind two minutes later, their defence at sixes and sevens once again as the ball was threaded across the box for Marshall to slip the ball past Evans. Gilroy hauled City back into the contest from the spot after Adam Everitt needlessly handled his flicked pass towards the returning Scott Rogers inside the box, but the visitors were back to square one three minutes later when Jones' hesitancy allowed Marshall to nick the ball on the left and give Anthony Riviere the chance to bundle the ball into an empty net.

After seeing four goals in the first 25 minutes, fans had to wait until the last 25 for the other four. Crucially, City scored three of them - all while playing with a man short after half-time substitute Wood flattened Eastleigh's Luke Byles with a late challenge as the defender cleared his lines. It was a poor tackle, but City obviously hoped Wood would escape with a caution and were aghast when referee Matthew McLaughlin waved a red card in his direction. But the setback proved to be the turning point and galvanised the visitors, who by now had nothing to lose. Chris Holland's downward header from Justyn McKay's left-wing corner gave them a glimmer of hope before Marshall seemed to have finally slammed the door in their face with a magnificent curling free-kick into the top corner of Evans' net after Adie Harris tripped him 20 yards out. With 16 minutes to go, the visitors appeared to have blown their last chance of an unlikely comeback and, if anything, Eastleigh looked the likelier scorers of the game's seventh goal as Marshall went close to completing what would have been a deserved hat-trick. But, in a breathless finish, it was Gilroy who grabbed the glory, ramming home his second of the afternoon with 86 minutes on the clock before delivering the coup de gras. After winning a disputed penalty following a challenge from Riviere, the former Bristol Rovers striker kept his head while all around him were losing theirs to chip his point-saving spot kick into the centre of keeper Gareth Howells' net with the keeper looking on helplessly from the floor. With a point in their grasp, City were not about to let it go and the final whistle brought an explosion of joy and relief from the visiting contingent, with assistant boss Adie Britton leading the way with a gleeful charge towards an incredulous band of away followers behind the goal. Amidst the madness it was all too easy to forget that City had been well short of their best for the best part of the 90 minutes and, after all, had only gained a point that would have been seen as the minimum requirement before the start. But the amazing set of events in between can only have strengthened the bond in the dressing room and will serve as a reminder to the rest of division that this City squad are to be written off at their peril.