AS one Eastleigh chapter triumphantly opened, another emotionally closed at the Silverlake Stadium on Saturday.
New central defensive signing Chris Todd marked his debut with a powerful headed goal as the Spitfires soared up to mid-table in the Blue Square South with a 3-1 revenge win over Hampshire rivals Farnborough.
Later, in a fitting end to a distinguished Eastleigh career, former skipper and defensive stalwart Tom Jordan played a part in setting up the third goal before leaving the pitch to a players’ guard of honour and a standing ovation from an appreciative 606-strong crowd.
It was only thanks to the efforts of Eastleigh’s hard-working band of sup porters, volunteers and members of staff that the game was able to go ahead after heavy overnight rain.
With manager Richard Hill looking to avenge October’s 6-2 defeat at Cherrywood Road, he went with three central defenders – Todd, Dean Beckwith and Luton loanee Alex Lacey – flanked by full-backs Mitchell Nelson and Michael Green.
Mark Hughes and skipper Glen Southam provided midfield steel and flair players Jai Reason and Damian Scannell were given freedom to roam in support of tar getman Craig McAllister. It was Southam who fired the Spitfires ahead in the 13th minute, but only after ex-Saints academy goalkeeper Jack Dovey had come to their rescue with a smart near-post save from Dave Tarpey.
That miss came back to haunt the visi tors when Reason played in Southam with a deft back-heel and the Eastleigh skipper coolly beat Norris from close range. Two more good stops by Dovey – both foiling Nic Ciardini – kept the threat of a Boro’ equaliser at bay. And, with Todd, Beckwith and Lacey impressing, Eastleigh remained relatively comfort able until the 69th minute when a quick ly-taken free kick caught them napping and Dan Bennett equalised at the back post.
But Hill’s men determinedly reclaimed seconds later with a bullet header from debutant Todd. Southam went off with a pelvic injury to be replaced by Dale Binns, but it was the 89th-minute introduction of Jordan for McAllister that lit up the stadium.
After four-and-a-half years as a Spitfire, the popular defender – son of ex-Saint Joe - has accepted a settlement on his contract and Saturday was his last home game in an Eastleigh shirt.
Jordan made it one to remember, going up front and exchanging passes with Scannell who set up Binns to make it 3-1 - his first goal for the club.
Expressing his thanks on Twitter, Jordan wrote: “Great win today, good luck to everyone @eastleighfc supporters, players, management and BOD. The future looks very bright # Spitfires.”
Assistant boss Guy Butters was delighted with another home victory that keeps the Spitfires just seven points off play-off pace.
“I can’t remember the last game, it seems so long ago,” he said. “But we seemed to get the cobwebs out of our system quite well.
“Considering the state of the pitch, we played some good stuff out there today, got the ball down and tried to pass it as much as possible.
“The longer the game went on, we always had the confidence we would go on and win it.”