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Eastleigh 1 Chelmsford City 0
12:09pm Monday 18th February 2013 in Local Sport
JAI Reason's 43rd-minute penalty for Eastleigh ensured the Hampshire outfit claimed three Blue Square Bet South points from Chelmsford City at the Silverlake Stadium as Clarets Manager Glenn Pennyfather admitted his side were below par during a first-half performance which he believed ultimately cost them the game.
The Clarets had Man of the Match goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook to thank for restricting the in-form home team as Chelmsford dropped one place to fourth and also had defender Mark Haines dismissed three minutes into injury time at the end for a second bookable offence.
Glenn was naturally disappointed after the match, but he remains determined to put things right when City host Havant & Waterlooville on Monday night.
He said: "In the first half we weren't at the races - we were outthought and outfought and our goal lived a charmed life. They deserved to go into half time ahead because, for the first time in a long time, I felt it was 45 minutes where we hadn't competed.
"We were better in the second half and created a couple of good chances. If we'd have put one away it could have been different, but unfortunately you get days like this and it was really the first half which cost us."
The only change to the side which won 4-0 at Tonbridge Angels seven days earlier was the inclusion of striker Rob Edmans in place of top scorer Jamie Slabber, who started a three-match suspension.
But there was little action at either end until the 21st minute when a defensive slip gifted Eastleigh's Craig McAllister with an opening, but somehow Chelmsford contrived to clear to safety after the ball just evaded Mitchell Nelson in a dangerous area.
Then, a few minutes later, there was an incredible scramble in front of the City goal and the Spitfires were left stunned at how they couldn't find the net.
Some last-ditch defending and two incredible saves from 'keeper Charles-Cook denied Dale Binns and Mark Hughes, then Eastleigh missed another great chance on the half-hour.
A bobble put McAllister off as he looked like putting the home team in front, though they did take the lead with two minutes of the first half remaining. Haines' foul gave away a spot kick for Pennyfather's men as he fouled Reason, but the striker dusted himself down to take the penalty, striking under the body of Charles-Cook and make it 1-0.
After the break there were further opportunities for Eastleigh, a decent 54th-minute move crafting a chance for Binns, who fired just off-target.
Charles-Cook got down to turn Glen Southam's long-ranger wide of the post just after the hour mark and, although Donovan Simmonds struck over the bar at the other end, the hosts were most likely to score.
Reason slipped McAllister through on goal and poor control denied him a clear strike at goal.
Charles-Cook had to come to the rescue again to get in the way of a low Southam effort at his near post and a ball behind the Clarets' defence saw McAllister collect, though he couldn't convert. David Bridges registered a shot for City, Chris Todd getting in the way.
In the 74th minute Eastleigh's Hughes headed a Reason corner over the bar then, three minutes from time, Charles-Cook made another superb save.
Team mate Haines' attempted clearance careered towards his own goal, but a reflex stop save spared his blushes.
Three minutes into injury time, however, Haines' second booking for a foul meant he received a red card, which saw the match finish on an especially sour note.