Hayes & Yeading United pulled themselves back from a four goal deficit midway through the first leg to complete an amazing comeback at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon to book a place in the Blue Square South play-off Final against fellow Middlesex side Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Manager Garry Haylock got his tactics spot on this afternoon and every one of his players responded, putting in probably the best team performance in the very short history of our new club.
With United trailing by two goals from the home leg it was no surprise that it was they who had the first effort at goal. Just three minutes had been played when a long ball from the back was neatly controlled by Scott Fitzgerald who laid it back to Staforde Palmer on the edge of the area but his first time shot was wide of the target. The Spitfires responded in kind minutes later, Brett Williams found space on the left and his deep cross was met at the far post by Ashley Carew who also failed to hit the target.
A couple more chances soon came the way of the Spitfires, Anthony Riviere went close when his shot beat Delroy Preddie but came back off the upright with Williams heading wide and then seconds later Tony Taggart crossed from the left to Carew who volleyed over the United goal.
It was now United's turn to have a glut of chances but still Jason Matthews goal remained intact. James Mulley raced into the area from the right side but his angled shot was saved by Matthews who minutes later had to dive sharply to his right to push away what would have been an own goal as Aaron Martin tackled Palmer in the area. Palmer then went close from a Gregory free-kick before Fitzgerald outjumped Tom Jordan to get his head to a Binns centre but sadly it was straight at Matthews.
It was then Preddie's turn to keep the tie alive as Brett Williams raced to the edge of the area and unleashed a shot that the United stopper did well to push away, Taggart was first to the rebound but shot weakly at Preddie. The goal that was to open up the tie and give United the boost they needed came with the last touch of the first half. A third corner in succession saw a perfect kick from Gregory sail over Matthews to be headed home from close range by Perkins (pictured left).
The second half started quickly and within four minutes both keepers had been required to defend their goal. Eastleigh's Matt Groves played the ball inside to Brown but his shot was held by the diving Preddie and just two minutes later Palmer fed Binns who tried his luck from 25 yards, Matthews helping the ball around the post. More chances were soon coming, Jordan got his head to a deep Taggart corner but could not hit the target and at the other end Ram Marwa won possession and sent Mulley inside, the ever present United man trying his luck with his weaker left and also failing to trouble the keeper.
With Garry's trump card Will Hendry introduced for goalscorer Perkins, United upped their game again in a bid to level the tie and they very nearly had it put on a plate for them. Gavin Heeroo had the ball midway inside his own half and inexcusably played it back towards Matthews without looking, the ball going straight to Fitzgerald who was coming back from an attack, thankfully for the home side Matthews was quickly off his line to block the ball away as the United striker tried to level the tie.
A fifteen minute lull in chances had the vociferous red army wondering if it was ever going to come and then with nine minutes remaining United were awarded a free-kick just outside the Spitfires area. Hendry sought and was granted permission to take the kick quickly, his effort being blocked in the area by the raised arm of Heeroo and referee Mr Forrester pointed straight to the spot. Hendry himself stepped up and beat Matthews just as he had in the first leg.
Four minutes of the game remained when a mass scramble in the United area could have undone the superb work of the previous 86, it was not to be though for the home side as the ball was finally cleared away to safety and extra time it was going to be.
Even in extra time with tiring legs both sides held nothing back, United were straight
on the offensive as Palmer created a chance for Fitzgerald but he fired over from the edge of the area. Preddie was almost caught out seconds later when a Carew cross from the right sailed just over his head and inches wide of the far post. Again within seconds play had switched ends and United were to take the lead for the first time in the tie. Gary MacDonald turned provider as he played a defence splitting ball to Fitzgerald from the half way line, the United striker moving to the right before pulling his shot back across Matthews into the far corner in what almost looked like slow motion.
The Spitfires came straight back at United, a low Luke Byles centre being laid off to Groves by Peter Adeniyi but his shot from the edge of the area flew inches wide of Preddie's post. It was just two minutes later when the Fitzgerald netted his second. Hendry fired in a free-kick from the left and Fitzgerald arrived at the far post to fire past Matthews.
Joy almost turned to sorrow though as just two minutes later a foul on Jordan in the United area saw Mr Forrester again point to the spot, this time in favour of the home team. Taggart stepped up only to be denied by an excellent Preddie save diving to his left, much as Aaron Howe had at Church Road on Tuesday to deny the same player.
At the start of the second period United nearly took the tally to five when Hendry took the ball from defender Steve Clark before setting himself for a curling shot that Matthews did well to claw away one handed. Just ten minutes remained when Preddie made his finest save of the game, the United keeper superbly clawing back a close range Taggart drive from behind his body and then when Groves looked favourite to ram home the loose ball a superb Tom Cadmore interception took the ball off his toe just a yard from the goal line.
The final few minutes saw a busy time for the United keeper as he aimed for another clean sheet. Jordan headed into the ground and the ball squirmed from Preddie's grasp, he was down like a flash to atone for his error, blocking at the feet of Groves. Groves was again the man Preddie denied in stoppage time as he made a superb block at the foot of his near post.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
Match Highlights available at www.fcvideo.co.uk
Website United Man of the Match: Garry Haylock.