Eastleigh 0 Woking 1.

EASTLEIGH’S hopes of making a late charge for the Vanarama National League play-offs were derailed by ten-man Woking at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon.

The third-to-bottom Cards survived the 68th-minute dismissal of Dennon Lewis to hold on for a shock 1-0 victory courtesy of Gozie Ugwu’s first-half header.

Spitfires manager Martin Allen restored popular left-back Michael Green to the starting line-up, along Jai Reason and James Constable, in a trio of changes from last week’s 1-1 draw at Sutton.

Mikael Mandron, Ben Strevens and Sam Muggleton dropped to the bench.

After a moderately uneventful opening, Eastleigh began to tick after ten minutes when Green went scampering down the left and went tumbling under Dennon Lewis’s challenge. Ross Stearn delivered a decent free-kick, but big defender Bondz N’Gala failed to get the right contact with his header.

Constable then played in 6ft 4in targetman Darius Henderson whose left-foot strike drew a comfortable save from ex-Spitfire Michael Poke in the Cards goal.

But, from showing signs of promise, Eastleigh soon found themselves under the cosh.

Goalkeeper Graham Stack temporarily got the Spitfires out of jail, saving with his feet to deny Woking skipper Kieran Murtagh with 14 minutes gone but, just two minutes later, the lowly Surrey visitors seized the lead.

With Eastleigh’s defence all at sea, the ball broke to Lewis on the right and it was all too easy for the Cards as he delivered towards the penalty spot where GOZIE UGWU powered in a free header.

Henderson had another couple of half chances for Eastleigh, bending a left-foot shot wide and making his aerial presence felt as Hakeem Odoffin crossed deep from the right.

But Woking’s pace and movement on the break was a constant threat to the home side and the Spitfires so nearly found themselves two down on 29 minutes when goalscorer Ugwu powered menacingly in from the right and, with Stack closing him down, screwed his shot narrowly wide of the far post.

Eastleigh threatened intermittently from free kicks and corners but were lacking cutting edge – a problem addressed in the 40th minute when young Tyler Garratt made way for top scorer Mikael Mandron as Allen went with three up top.

It was Woking, though, who had the next big chance with new Colchester loan signing Macauley Bonne finding himself in similar territory to teammate Ugwu on the right of Eastleigh’s area. This time Stack took the sting out his shot and it held up in the mud on the far side of the area before Eastleigh cleared.

Half-time: Eastleigh 0 Woking 1.

Allen made another roll of the dice for the second half, withdrawing Green and introducing the potent weapon of new signing Sam Muggleton and his famed long throw.

Within three minutes of his introduction the former Barnet man chucked one in from the left and, although Woking cleared at the near post, the ball fell to Stearn who fired over from distance.

With Eastleigh’s physicality coming to the fore, they began bombarding the Woking box but there was still no joy for the Spitfires and, on hour, Allen prepared to introduce new signing Mekhi McLeod.

But either side of the speedy, young wideman going on to replace Constable, Eastleigh lost their way again and were lucky not to fall further into arrears.

With the powerful Ugwu keeping N’Gala occupied, Charlie Carter charged in to nick the ball and rifle a surprise shot just wide.

Ugwu then raced onto a ball over the top, forcing a crucial block from Stack who then managed to deal with Carter’s follow-up.

McLeod’s introduction had an immediate impact, however, and with Woking struggling to cope with his pace, Lewis paid the ultimate price, picking up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes to reduce his side to ten men with 22 minutes to go.

That sparked a renewed sense of urgency from Eastleigh and, after Stearn had screeched a shot narrowly wide from Henderson’s knockdown, Woking were lucky to survive a dangerous Muggleton corner which saw N’Gala’s header hit the bar.

Eastleigh claimed handball in the frantic aftermath as the visitors cleared it off the line, but referee Alan Young disagreed.

With the game ticking into the 89th minute, Eastleigh’s second-half endeavours finally looked to have paid dividends when Muggleton hurled in another huge throw from the left. N’Gala flicked it on to the far post where it somehow evaded the outstretched leg of Hakeem Odoffin.

The Spitfires threw the kitchen sink at the ten-man visitors as four minutes of added time was announced, but the Cards manfully threw bodies behind the ball in the face of ferocious pressure from the home side.

Poke played his part tipping one over the bar and the outstanding Favio Saraiva cleared one off the line amid a manic goalmouth scramble at the death.

Eastleigh:Graham Stack Hakeem Odoffin, Michael Green (Sam Muggleton, 46), Sam Togwell, Bondz N’Gala, Adam Dugdale, Tyler Garratt (Mikael Mandron, 40), Jai Reason, James Constable (Mekhi McLeod, 60), Darius Henderson, Ross Stearn.Subs (not used): Ben Strevens, Ayo Obileye.

Referee: Alan Young.

Attendance: 2,036