CHERRIES marked their first pre-season friendly on English soil with an accomplished display and ran out comfortable winners at the Silverlake Stadium tonight.
Eddie Howe’s men, fresh from a training camp in Austria where they had drawn with FC Copenhagen, showed their class against the Conference newcomers.
Eastleigh, who paraded new signings James Constable, Jack Midson, Paul Reid, Craig Stanley and Ben Wright, rarely troubled Cherries goalkeeper Benji Buchel while his opposite number Ross Flitney pulled off a string of fine saves for the Spitfires.
Jai Reason was forced to turn a dangerous cross from Charlie Daniels over his own crossbar before Cherries went close to breaking the deadlock after six minutes.
A neat move down the left-hand side ended with the ball finding the feet of Eunan O’Kane whose deflected strike drew a fine save from Spitfires goalkeeper Ross Flitney.
Pitman fired narrowly wide following a Daniels free-kick before the Jerseyman poked home a Ryan Fraser cross at the near post to open the scoring after 16 minutes.
Josh McQuoid almost caught Flitney off his line with a clever flick, the Eastleigh goalkeeper managing to save the ball at the second attempt.
Yemi Odubade went close to levelling midway through the first half, the winger’s dipping effort from distance just clearing the crossbar.
Fraser again provided the assist as Cherries doubled their lead, the Scotsman’s neat pass met by Francis who drilled a low right-foot drive past Flitney.
Benji Buchel raced off his line to smother at the feet of Craig McAllister before Flitney pushed away a rasping strike from McQuoid as the first half drew to a close.
Shaun MacDonald was Cherries’ only change at the break, the Welshman replacing youngster Sam Matthews who acquitted himself well in the opening 45 minutes.
Marc Pugh displayed some neat footwork to add a third goal for Cherries shortly after the interval, the winger’s trickery taking him past a defender and Flitney before rolling the ball into an empty net.
Pitman rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 20-yarder before a raft of changes saw Cherries make no fewer than nine substitutions on the hour.
Flitney pulled off another top-drawer save to keep out Yann Kermorgant’s shot, the Frenchman taking aim from 12 yards after being teed up by Tokelo Rantie.
As Cherries continued to fashion all the chances, Rantie dragged his shot wide before Harry Arter’s thumping free-kick flew inches past the upright.
MacDonald netted a finely-taken fourth goal on 79 minutes, the midfielder exchanging passes with Rantie before curling a neat right-foot shot past sub goalkeeper Lewis Noice.
Rantie was then denied by Noice, the Eastleigh stopper flicking away the South African’s angled drive before he also thwarted Kermorgant after he had met Ritchie’s cross.
Cherries: Buchel, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, O’Kane, Matthews (MacDonald, h-t), Pitman, Fraser, Pugh, McQuoid.
Cherries’ team after 60 minutes: Buchel, Smith, McCarthy, Cargill, Harte, Arter, MacDonald, Gosling, Ritchie, Kermorgant, Rantie.