Eastleigh step up pre-season preparations with victory over League One side Oxford United


With three weeks until the season gets underway, Oxford made the trip south to face National League side Eastleigh who have lofty ambitions of their own for the upcoming campaign.

Ben Strevens and his Eastleigh side returned to the Silverlake for the first time following their dramatic play-off exploits last season. Knocked out through penalty heartbreak by eventual winners Salford in the semi-final, the Spitfires will be hoping they can finally reach the summit this time around.

Oxford fielded a very young starting eleven with Tony McMahon, Jamie Hanson and Mark Sykes the only senior players; the fielded eleven having an average age of 19. Nevertheless, it offered up a great opportunity for the fringe players to impress boss Karl Robinson.

Once the pre-match pleasantries were completed, the visitors got the match underway as both sides looked to go through the gears in their pre-season preparations.

The youthful Oxford side had the first clear-cut chance of the game when a deflected cross found its way to the on-rushing full-back Tony McMahon but he snatched at the shot, blazing it over the bar.

In the 12th minute Eastleigh opened the scoring after a fine spell of possession from the home side. Picking the ball up by their own corner flag, they calmly played the ball through the thirds with Joe Partington putting the decisive delivery into the path of Ben Williamson who cooly slotted it into back of the net.

Despite the pre-season feel to proceedings, an inexperienced Oxford took no time in displaying their physicality, putting in some meaty tackles early on and provoking collective groans from the home crowd.

However, nothing could stop the Spitfires getting their second when Jack McKnight pounced on a defensive mistake to feed Williamson, who grabbed his second with a smart turn and finish.

The whistle blew for half-time and Oxford could count themselves unfortunate to be trailing by two. They tested Eastleigh keeper Max Stryjek but most of the efforts lacked accuracy. They also should have had a penalty when Reda Johnson clumsily barged Aaron Heap in the box.

Seven minutes after the break Andrew Boyce made it three when he rose highest to bundle the ball over the line from an in-swinging Jack Payne corner.

In the 68th minute Oxford had their best chance of the game when Kevin Berkoe’s thunderous strike from just outside the box was brilliantly saved by Eastleigh shot-stopper Max Stryjek. His fingertips managed to turn the ball over the bar and keep his clean sheet intact.

Stryjek made yet another remarkable save when Michael Green’s sloppy pass gave Fabio Lopes a great chance to score. The man between the sticks got down quickly to his left and tipped the half-volley round the post.

As the half wore on, opportunities were becoming more frequent with both sides tiring. Sam Smart hit the post and then forced an excellent stop from the Oxford keeper whilst Cavaghn Miley’s strike narrowly went past the outright.

The match ended and Eastleigh ran out comfortably 3-0 victors in what was a beneficial pre-season workout for both sides.

Team Lineups:

Eastleigh (5-2-3): Max Stryjek; Joe Partington, Alex Wynter, Andrew Boyce (Sam Smart 64′), Reda Johnson(c) (Rob Atkinson 45′), Michael Green; Jack Payne, Cavaghn Miley (Lewis Waterfield 83′), Jack McKnight (Callum Baughan 83′); Scott Rendell (Trialist 56′), Ben Williamson (Tom Bearwish 74′).

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Jack Stevens; Tony McMahon (Yoav Sade 83′), Sam Allardyce, Nico Jones, Kevin Berkoe; Jamie Hanson (Aaron McCreaie 83′), Aaron Heap, Mark Sykes, Kyran Lofthouse (Jack Stevens 83′); Owen James (Ryan Crooks 60′), Fabio Lopes.

Subs unused: Max Harris


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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