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Crunch Hampshire derby for champions Eastleigh's fellow promotion hopefuls Havant
5:00am Monday 21st April 2014 in Sport
Eastleigh travel to Skrill South play-off contenders Havant & Waterlooville this afternoon already crowned as champions.
But, while the Spitfires having nothing to play for, experienced midfielder Ben Strevens has recognised that they still have an important say in who finishes where.
The Hawks sit in sixth place but on the same points and with a game in hand on Dover Athletic, who hold the final play-off position due to their superior goal difference.
The champions therefore expect a tough 90 minutes against their Hampshire rivals at West Leigh Park (3pm) as Lee Bradbury’s side try to keep alive their dream of joining the Spitfires in the top non league division next term.
They need seven points from their remaining three matches to confirm a top fice finish and join Paul Doswell’s Sutton, long-time leaders Bromley and Ebbsfleet in the play-offs.
And Strevens, a veteran of six promotions, knows that while Eastleigh are in a celebratory mood, after beating Basingstoke 2-1 to clinch the title on Good Friday, they are not forgetting the importance of the match from Havant’s point of view.
“Of course it is difficult. We are celebrating and we’re very happy with winning the title, but it’s not just about us now,” he said.
“There are other teams below us, including Havant, who are battling for those play-off spots. We are aware that we have a big say in who will finish where.
“We will have to do our best.
“It will be difficult, I won’t lie, but we’ll do our best and hopefully we can get the right result because we want to finish the season on a winning note.”
Eastleigh are still carrying the battle scars of their hectic championship chase and will probably be without Stuart Fleetwood, Reece Connolly and ex-Havant captain Jamie Collins.
All three of those players picked up injuries during their run in.
Boss Richard Hill admitted after beating Basingstoke his team are “tired to death” as they enjoyed the greatest day in the club’s 68-year history.
Eastleigh’s final game of a triumphant season is against Boreham Wood at The Silverlake Stadium next Saturday.
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