IN little more than three weeks back in charge at Eastleigh, Richard Hill has worked miracles.
He took over a side that hadn’t won in 2017 – and now, all of a sudden, they have pulled off back-to-back victories to raise themselves to a more comfortable looking 12th in the National League.
Having laid the home hoodoo to rest with a 2-0 win over Barrow, the Spitfires have now put 11 points between themselves and fourth-to-bottom Woking thanks to Scott Wilson's last-gasp winner at Chester yesterday.
It’s the closest thing to consistency the Spitfires have achieved since Ronnie Moore’s early days in charge, but director of football/caretaker boss Hill is reluctant to take the credit for stopping a potentially disastrous season slipping over the cliff edge.
Reflecting on a precious 1-0 victory, he said: “It’s nothing I’ve done particularly.
“The players are grown men and I can’t make decisions for them when they’re on the pitch.
“All I’ve done is give them a bit of leeway and let them make decisions based on what they know I want. People always work better when you give them responsibility.
“I even sat in the stand first half and let Ben Strevens get on with it. Everyone knows I’m being supported by (senior players) Strevens and Craig McAllister and I wanted Ben to see what it’s like to stand on the touchline.”
Hill, though, did concede that it was one his decisions - which he quickly retracted - that potentially influenced the outcome of the game.
When centre-back Reda Johnson bowed out injured at 0-0 with ten minutes to go, he flirted with the idea of switching from a back three to a back four and throwing another forward on to try and win the game.
“For a mad ten seconds I thought about it and then I came to my senses and thought ‘no, we’ll stay as we are and keep our one point,” he said.
“As it happened, Chester went to a back four and it just opened them up a bit. They had two in the middle, we had three and now we had pace up front in (sub) Scott Wilson against their two central defenders.
“It ended up backfiring on Chester, but you shouldn’t crucify their manager Jon McCarthy for trying. It’s a bit easier away from home to set yourselves up to make sure you don’t lose.”
It was Wilson who grabbed the winner the last time Eastleigh had triumphed on the road at Boreham Wood on New Year’s Eve.
This time he went on for Matt Tubbs and was in the right place at the right time to rifle home fellow sub Sam Matthews’ late corner.
“Scott was bright in the box and the ball went through bodies on its way across,” said Hill. “Credit to him, but don’t forget that it was a fantastic delivery from young Matthews, it really was.
“The game could have gone either way, but now we’ve won everyone says ‘what a great performance!’ But we could have played exactly the same, got beat and everyone would have said it was a poor performance.
“But apart from the beginning of the second half, which we didn’t start well, I thought we just edged it.
“The players worked hard in training and they deserve all the credit.”
Eastleigh are back on the road on Tuesday, away to a Torquay United side precariously perched just a place and a point above the relegation zone.