MANAGER Richard Hill hailed a historic day as Eastleigh beat Nuneaton Town 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium in their first ever match in the Conference Premier.
Last season’s top-scorer Jai Reason, debutant Craig Stanley and experienced midfielder Ben Strevens were all on target as the Spitfires turned in an impressive performance.
Hill, who guided the Spitfires to the Conference South title last term, named an attacking team with new signings Jack Midson and James Constable alongside the likes of Stuart Fleetwood and Reason in a strong front line.
Paul Reid made his debut alongside captain Dean Beckwith at centre-back and Stanley lined-up with Strevens in midfield.
“We had a plan and the lads have carried the plan through well,” said Hill, who played for Nuneaton in the 1980s. “We’ve played some very good football today.
“I’m always asking for more, we have to keep improving for the next game. That’s the first game of 46 and we have to perform to that level again and again.”
The match in Warwickshire marked a huge landmark in Eastleigh’s history.
In 11 years, they’ve gone from a Wessex Premier outfit to the elite level of non-league football.
“It’s great to be part of something like this at Eastleigh,” said Hill.
“If, as silly as it sounds, civilisation ended today, Eastleigh fans have seen something they’ve never seen before.
“To be part of that is great.
“To be doing firsts every single week, we’ve got to go to Grimsby, Chester, Wrexham – these teams have been in the football league and that’s incredible.
“We’ve got to be proud of what we’re doing.
“We won’t win 3-0 every week, we won’t play well every week, but everyone has to be proud of the history we’re making at this club.”
Their first Conference Premier goal came courtesy of Jai Reason after just 19 minutes.
Left back Michael Green scooped the ball over the Nuneaton defence and the pacy forward was ready to pounce as he flicked the ball past stopper Reice Charles-Cooke at the near post from close range.
Stanley then curled a sumptuously struck effort from the edge of the box just before the hour mark after Midson created room to pass to the midfielder.
And with 20 minutes left, Strevens got the third as he controlled a ball over the top of the defence and lashed into the top right of the net.
It should have been four but substitute Ben Wright, who scored 15 vital goals as Eastleigh were promoted last term, couldn’t convert from Craig McAllister’s square ball on 87 minutes.
The Spitfires now prepare to face Aldershot Town on Thursday at the Silverlake (7.45) before welcoming Gateshead two days later (3pm).
Nuneaton (5-3-2): Reice Charles-Cooke, Jorrin John, Connor Franklin (Anton Brown 62), Gavin Cowan (Delroy Gordon 66), Gareth Dean (C), Adam Walker, James Armson, Jack Dyer (Ben Hutchinson 60), Magno Viera, Andy Brown, Theo Streete. Unused subs: James Wren, Ben Starosta.
Eastleigh (4-2-3-1): Ross Flitney, Dan Spence, Michael Green, Dean Beckwith (C), Craig Stanley (Ben Wright 79), James Constable (Will Evans 72), Jai Reason, Jack Midson (Craig McAllister 60), Stuart Fleetwood, Ben Strevens, Paul Reid. Unused subs: Yemi Odubade, Lewis Noice.