Eastleigh secure a 2-1 win at Dover Athletic in the Skrill Conference South

Daily Echo: Stuart Fleetwood scored a late winner Stuart Fleetwood scored a late winner

Eastleigh exorcised a football demon in dramatic fashion after overcoming last season’s play-off semi-final heartbreakers Dover Athletic 2-1 in the Skrill Conference South at the Crabble Stadium last night, in the first of a trilogy of matches against the Whites in the space of a month.

In the only fixture in the division on Tuesday evening the Spitfires made ground on table toppers Bromley, with the gap narrowing to seven points at the top of the league.

In a match-up between two of the tightest defences in the league, a three minute flurry saw the scoring level at 1-1, Chris Kinnear headed home the opener for the Whites on 77 minutes before Ben Strevens bagged soon after for Eastleigh.

And that looked to be the end of it as 90 minutes approached, however, Stuart Fleetwood on the other hand had different ideas as he slotted home from five yards in stoppage time to secure a spectacular win.

The Silverlake Stadium side host Athletic in back-to-back fixtures in the space of three days on the 11th and 14th January, first, in the Third Round proper of the FA Trophy and then in the league a few days later.

And it will be the perfect tonic for Richard Hill’s men to defeat the Kent side after the haunting play-off loss, when Eastleigh lost 4-2 on penalties.

This match was always likely going to be a cagey affair with the teams’ sharing the best defensive records in the league so far this campaign – conceding just 11 each before this match.

Jack Dovey, the former Saints stopper, maintained his place after a clean-sheet in the 2-0 FA Trophy victory against Gateshead on Saturday – Ross Flitney returned, after recovering from an eye infection, but sat on the bench as he came back to his former charges.

Craig McAllister also started after recovering from a dead leg that kept him out of the Trophy clash.

As expected, the Spitfires found it difficult to break down Dover with the score 0-0 until 13 minutes from the end.

Fleetwood had the first effort of the evening as he curled an effort straight at Whites goalkeeper, Mitch Walker, from outside the area, the ‘keeper holding well.

On 21 minutes, Walker was called into action again having to palm out a terrific cross from Michael Green before Dover managed to clear before Fleetwood once more fired a long range effort.

A golden chance fell to Glen Southam, once of Dover, after he collected a cross from the right and controlled, before side-footing over the bar.

Dovey was called into action moments later as he tipped over the bar and was tested by Whites’ attackers Richard Orlu, Sean Raggett and Liam Bellamy.

In the second-half Fleetwood missed the target as he drove a fizzling shot narrowly wide before Dover felt they were denied, what they felt, was a clear penalty decision after a supposed hand-ball in the box.

Hill then threw his dice just past the hour mark bringing on attacker Yemi Odubade for full-back Damian Batt and within ten minutes of that, the game ignited.

Kinnear put Dover ahead with planted header into the bottom corner past Dovey. Strevens then fired home with aplomb to level the match and looked to have settled the match.

Fleetwood, who had several efforts shunned throughout the game, then slotted home from close range in what was the last gasp winner for the Spitfires and keep them high flying in the Skrill South.

Eastleigh will be back in action at the Silverlake Stadium as they take on 16th place Chelmsford City.

Eastleigh: Jack Dovey, Dan Spence, Michael Green (returned to starting XI), Damian Batt, Will Evans, Chris Todd, Ben Strevens, Glen Southam, Craig McAllister (returned to the starting XI), Jai Reason, Stuart Fleetwood Subs: Yemi Odubade, Chris Dillon, Romone Rose, Dean Beckwith, Ross Flitney,

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