Eastleigh striker Ben Wright hits top form after Fulham heartache

Daily Echo: BEN WRIGHT BEN WRIGHT

A player whose Premier League dream was once ended by England boss Roy Hodgson has put Eastleigh in sight of promotion to the elite level of non-league football.

Much-travelled striker Ben Wright netted twice for the Spitfires to propel them to a priceless 2-1 win at Conference South title rivals Bromley on Tuesday.

They were the 11th and 12th league goals in only Wright’s 15th game of a loan spell from Salisbury City that began back in February.

And the brace, including a second-half penalty winner, took Eastleigh to within five points of promotion to the Conference Premier and potential games against a host of former Football League clubs.

Richard Hill’s men could clinch the title this weekend if they win at lowly Chelmsford City while Sutton United and Bromley both fail to win their home games.

Whatever their rivals do, if Eastleigh pick up three points at Chelmsford they will clinch the title by beating Dover at their Silverlake Arena next Tuesday.

Amazingly, Eastleigh is the 18th club of the 25-year-old Wright’s peripatectic footballing career.

The Basingstoke-born man started off at his home-town club, where he was loaned out to the likes of Winchester City, Andover (twice) and Fleet Town.

After signing for Hampton & Richmond in 2008, Wright’s prolific form brought him to the attention of neighbouring Premier League club Fulham.

The two clubs agreed a fee of around £50,000 and Wright passed a medical, before Cottagers boss Hodgson pulled out of the deal at the last minute.

Wright subsequently joined Peterborough United, where he only managed five sub appearances in League 1 and the Championship.

Further loan spells followed at Kettering, Luton, Grimsby, Barnet and Hayes & Yeading United before Wright signed for Crawley in the summer of 2010.

He found chances limited as the Sussex club then possessed the prolific Matt Tubbs and Wright’s current Eastleigh colleague Craig McAllister, who grabbed the goals as Crawley won the Conference National title. After more loan spells at Hayes & Yeading (again) and Newport County, Wright moved on again to Braintree in the summer of 2011.

The following season was, prior to this, his best yet with 17 Conference Premier goals.

That won him a move to Forest Green Rovers, but soon he was back on loan at Braintree again before switching to Salisbury last summer. After scoring six goals for the Whites in the first half of this season, Wright was first loaned out to Basingstoke Town before becoming a Spitfire two months ago.

Wright could have a big part to play in Eastleigh’s remaining five games, especially as 11-goal playmaker Stuart Fleetwood fears his season is over after coming off at Bromley with a hamstring injury.

The former Exeter, Hereford and Luton striker later tweeted: “What a performance from the lads tonight...... Gutted my hammy has gone and finished my season but the lads will finish it in style!”

Hill is not short of experience as he bids to lead the Spitfires into uncharted waters.

Both skipper Glen Southam and Ben Strevens have played more than 100 Football League games, while defender Chris Todd has played more than 200 games at Conference Premier level.

Keeper Ross Flitney, defender Michael Green and striker McAllister have all played Football League games in their careers.

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