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Eastleigh tighten grip on top spot
11:13pm Tuesday 18th March 2014 in Sport
Eastleigh’s lethal finishing proved too much for strugglers Whitehawk as the table toppers kept their Skrill Conference South title hopes on track with a 4-1 win in East Sussex.
It is now eight goals in two games for the Spitfires and once again it was on loan Salisbury striker Ben Wright who impressed by opening the scoring and providing assists for Reece Connolly and Craig McAllister’s first.
Former Crawley man, McAllister, added a fourth and his second from Stuart Fleetwood’s corner meaning the Spitfires are hitting hot form at the right time, and are one point clear at the top with two games in hand over second place Bromley, who kept chase by beating Eastbourne Borough 2-1.
Kieran Forbes knocked in a consolation late on for the relegation threatened Hawks as they went down battling, never giving up throughout.
Eastleigh boss Richard Hill recognised that and said: “It’s an awful place to come and if you’re not ready for the fight you’ll get beaten.
“I said to the lads before the game ‘it’s nothing against their character but if you’re not ready for the fight tonight you’re going to have a very hard evening’.
“They had a couple of half chances and we’ve thrown bodies in front of it and got blocks and when we’ve got to the other end of the pitch we were quite incisive but they got men forward.”
If you had arrived at the Enclosed Ground late you’d have forgiven for thinking it was the home-side that was 4-0 up.
The amount of shots that Hawks had on Ross Flitney’s goal must have been well into double figures by the close of the first-half.
Young Portuguese winger David Da Silva and former Brighton & Hove Albion man Jake Robinson both challenged Flitney, the Spitfires custodian, for the most part, was unflappable.
The ‘keeper did however make a couple of almost disastrous errors. He parried Waide Fairhurst’s shot straight into the path of lanky frontman Danny Mills, who attempted to loop over Flitney.
The flick away was then almost followed up by Mills, but the former Gillingham stopper dived on top of it.
And he then missed a back pass, which then came off the post, as he nonchalantly watched on before it went out for a corner.
Despite the onslaught, the visitors were 1-0 up within eight minutes. Wright fired in his seventh in eight games with a sumptuously curled free kick from the edge of the box after Glen Southam was fouled by former AFC Bournemouth defender Alex Parsons.
Wright turned provider, as Eastleigh broke, by heading through to Connolly who travelled deep into the Hawks’ box and slotted home from a narrow angle on 22 minutes.
Two minutes later the Spitfires had all but secured victory. Connolly’s flicked header undid the Hawks’ defence and found McAllister, who made no mistake from 12 yards, finishing to the right of ‘keeper Jonathan Miles.
The 33-year-old notched his second as the break approached. Fleetwood’s well taken corner found the frontman free at the back-post and he planted a header top right.
Hawks’ captain Tom Fraser walked into the changing rooms kicking up a stinking fuss about the lack of decisions in his team’s favour.
He then brought his disgust out in the second-half, as lunged at Glen Southam and saw a straight red from referee Andrew Laver.
McAllister went close to his hat-trick with a looping header before Southam drilled a dangerous low ball across the face of goal. Forbes then rounded Flitney and slotted into an empty net to make it 4-1.
Hill, who made no changes to the team that won 4-2 against Bishop’s Stortford at the weekend, paid tribute to travelling fans.
“The Eastleigh fans, not just tonight, but every time Eastleigh play is unbelievable,” he said.
“For a team at this level the way they travel to so many away games and the support they give is second to none and they’ve stuck with us last season through sticky times and they’ve stuck with us this season.”
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