RICHARD Hill is calling for more away-day resilience from Eastleigh as they acclimatise to life in “big boys’ football.”
Although the Spitfires have made a useful start to their debut Vanarama Conference season, winning three and drawing one of their opening six games, their two defeats have both come on the road.
After losing 2-1 at ten-man Dover last week, Hill was looking for a big improvement at Macclesfield yesterday.
But after missing an early penalty, the Spitfires were shot down 2-0 at Moss Rose.
“We need to improve away from home and be a bit more resilient,” said Hill.
“Rather than making ourselves hard to play against, we started off trying to play football at Macclesfield and not doing the horrible bit you have to do away from home.
“I’m not blaming Jack Midson for missing the penalty, but the game’s totally different if we score eight minutes in. But it wasn’t to be.
“This is big boys’ football now, not pretend football, and the stakes are higher. But, for the first goal, we didn’t track the runner down the right and stop him getting a cross in and, for the second, we didn’t mark well enough from a set-piece.
“I don’t want to go on about the referee, but my observation is that we haven’t been allowed to play in the last two away games. That said, perhaps we could have kept our discipline better when things got on top of us a bit and a few decisions went against us.
“I’m not just blaming the players though. This is an unforgiving league and I’ve got to do better as well.”
The game could so easily have unfolded differently had Eastleigh got their noses in front when an eighth-minute opportunity presented itself.
Having given away possession to Spitfires’ left-back Matt Fry, home defender George Pilkington fouled Jai Reason just inside the area as he sought to make amends.
Midson stepped up to the spot, but watched on in despair as Macc’s former Chelsea trainee goalkeeper Rhys Taylor saved his right-footed penalty.
The hosts, who escaped another Eastleigh penalty shout when Reason was tugged to the floor by Scott Barrow, responded with a wave of attacks which finally came to fruition on 32 minutes.
Waide Fairhurst back-heeled into the path of the overlapping Barrow whose cross was emphatically headed in by ex-Bury striker Domaine Rouse on his home debut.
Hill responded with half-time changes, withdrawing Stuart Fleetwood and Jamie Collins and reshuffling to accommodate Yemi Odubade on the right of midfield and partnering Ben Wright with James Constable up front.
But Macclesfield continued to boss proceedings and, following a rushed clearance by Spitfires ’keeper Ross Flitney after the under-pressure Will Evans had toed the ball back to him, Paul Lewis whistled a 25-yarder narrowly over.
With the game becoming ever more frenetic and the 1,284 crowd getting raucous, Eastleigh conceded again on the hour.
Ben Strevens was penalised as he challenged Fairhurst and home skipper Paul Turnbull delivered the free kick into the danger zone where Lewis arrived right on cue to head a killer second past Flitney.
Eastleigh responded positively with Odubade, Wright, Constable and Evans all having stabs at goal, but the unbeaten Silkmen held firm to make it three wins and three draws from their opening six games.
The win lifted Macclesfield seventh, two points ahead of Eastleigh in ninth.
With no midweek game, the Spitfires have the chance to work on things in training before welcoming 16th-placed Southport to the Silverlake on Saturday.
Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Will Evans, Dean Beckwith, Paul Reid, Matt Fry, Jamie Collins (Yemi Odubade, 46), Ben Strevens, Stuart Fleetwood (Ben Wright, 46), Jai Reason, Jack Midson (Craig McAllister, 72), James Constable. Subs: (not used) Chris Todd, Lewis Noice.
*FORMER Eastleigh striker Brett Williams struck twice as Aldershot Town leapfrogged the Spitfires into eighth spot with a 2-1 home win over ten-man Grimsby Town.