EASTLEIGH boss Richard Hill sees tomorrow’s trip to former Football League outfit Macclesfield Town as another mark of how far the club has come.
Just 12 seasons ago the Spitfires were plotting their march to future glory in the Wessex League, while the Silkmen were in the old League Division Three having played Manchester City in the old third tier four seasons earlier.
Yet it’s the south coast newcomers who will be viewed as Vanarama Conference heavyweights at Moss Rose tomorrow.
While Hill spoke of Macclesfield as “a former Football League club with a lot of history, a lot of tradition and a ground fit for Football League purposes”, Macc boss John Askey focused on the finances, saying: “It’s going to be a really tough game.
“Everybody knows Eastleigh are the money men of the division, or one of them at least.”
Hill said it was the same at Dover last week with Whites boss Chris Kinnear alluding to Eastleigh’s spending power in his programme notes.
“I find it a bit disappointing,” said the Spitfires boss. “People are always talking about my budget, but the only time I talk about theirs is to defend myself – and nobody goes to Dover, because of where they are geographically, unless its financially worth their while.
“It’s misconstrued what Stewart (Donald, Eastleigh chairman) has put in. A lot of what Stew has invested has gone into the ground to attract more people to come and watch Eastleigh. That money’s been spent on the club infrastructure, not the team.
“But again, everybody seems to know my budget and they do well in that because I don’t even know it myself! If I want a player, I can ask Stew and he’ll either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
“All clubs had the opportunity to sign the players I’ve signed. The only difference is that I picked up the phone to speak to them and they didn’t!
“They don’t know how much James Constable, Jack Midson, Craig Stanley or Paul Reid cost because they don’t know them and they didn’t bother to find out.”
With the transfer window slamming shut on Monday evening, Hill has ruled out any last-minute signings – with the possible exception of striker Reece Connolly who starts training on Monday following a sixth-month drugs ban and can begin playing again on October 1. Left-back Michael Green is still suspended tomorrow and right-back Dan Spence and skipper/centre-half Dean Beckwith remain doubtful with groin trouble, but the Spitfires have already proved their strength in depth.
“We’ve got 19 players and, if everyone’s fit, three of them don’t even get changed,” said Hill.
“Everyone said we were short of defensive cover, but we’ve already played seven different defenders with Will Evans, Matt Fry and Chris Todd coming in.
“Agents have been keeping me posted and I’ve had lots of names circulated to me, but there’s not one that, in my opinion, would add anything to the squad that’s not already there.
“I’m sure there are players out there who could add something different, but they’re not available.” Eastleigh are fourth, a point ahead of 11th-placed Macclesfield who have won two and drawn three making a mockery of the bookies’ tag of relegation candidates.
The unbeaten Silkmen, who drew 2-2 at Wrexham on Monday, are again likely to be without midfielder Danny Whitaker (back) and striker Chris Holroyd (hamstring). Askey has added the experience of ex-Morecambe defender Will Haining and the raw talent of ex-Bury striker Domaine Rouse.