2017 got off to a good start but February was a mixed month with wins at home to Sutton and Barrow and at Dagenham swiftly followed by a surprise defeat at home to North Ferriby.
Our maiden away league win of the season was followed with defeat at Wrexham in the first game of the month. Jake Cassidy’s early header in the 11th minute broke the deadlock. However Ntumba Massanka’s excellent overhead kick 20 minutes later flew past a helpless Maxted to pull the scores back level. It stayed that way until the introduction of John Rooney in the second half who scored with pretty much his first touch before firing in a free-kick in stoppage time to seal a win for the hosts.
On a soaking wet day at Nethermoor Eastleigh made the long trip North looking to ease their relegation fight worries as boss Martin Allen had brought in several players. James Constable’s smart finish in first half injury time was the only highlight of a poor 45 minutes of football. The Lions pushed for an equaliser in the second half and it came in the 96th minute when Jake Lawlor smashed a loose ball home after a mad scramble in the box.
We were back at Nethermoor three days later when Sutton were the visitors ahead of their FA Cup fixture with Arsenal. It was Jake Cassidy again who scored the opening goal, his 7th minute header separated the sides until Matt Tubbs’ penalty half an hour later. John Rooney who had just signed earlier on that day made a dream debut scoring the winner in injury time in what proved to be a big three points for his new side.
A tough fixture on the road was next up as promotion pushers Dagenham and Redbridge awaited Adam Lockwood’s men. In an eventful first half which saw Jordan Preston give us the lead 12 minutes in was excellent viewing for the bumper crowd at Victoria Road. Corey Whitely was sent off three minutes later after an altercation with Connor Brown. Just before half-time Danny Lowe handled in the box and up stepped Jordan Maguire-Drew to take the resulting penalty, Jonny Maxted was the hero with an impressive save. We got off to a good start in the second half and Jordan Preston rifled in his second goal in an impressive performance from the former Blackburn striker seven minutes after half-time. A long awaited clean sheet looked in the offing but Ollie Hawkins’ stoppage time strike made it a nervy few minutes for the Lions but a priceless three points was secured by Preston’s double.
A shock defeat followed at home to our friends from North Ferriby who needed three points to give them any chance of surviving in the Vanarama National League. Will Hatfield’s shot from range broke the deadlock after 13 minutes and we came close to scoring again in the first half. However North Ferriby with the wind behind them levelled through Reece Thompson, a great finish from the Villagers’ striker. Then 0n the 70th minute Danny Lowe was shown a straight red card for an altercation with a visiting defender. Up popped former Lion loanee Jake Skelton who gave his side the lead with three minutes remaining.
The last day of the month saw Barrow make the trip down to Nethermoor. The game was settled by Kevan Hurst’s 13th minute strike which somehow found it’s way into the bottom corner. The two sides pushed for further goals but thanks to the brilliance of both keepers and defences the game ended with just the one strike.