RICHARD Hill is urging Eastleigh fans to put their opinions to one side and get solidly behind the team at home to Bromley tomorrow (Monday, 3pm).
What should have been a no-pressure fixture for the Spitfires has suddenly upped in importance following Good Friday’s 2-1 defeat at lowly North Ferriby.
It would take a freak turn of events to drag 14th-placed Eastleigh into the relegation dogfight, but they cannot breathe easily until they are mathematically safe.
Currently just five points separate them from fourth-to-bottom Braintree with three games remaining.
Director of football/caretaker boss Hill has had to make some big calls – not all of them universally popular - since responding to the Spitfires’ distress signals in late February.
A crucial return of ten points from four March games should be just enough to secure their National League future - but “just enough” does not sit well with the man who gloriously guided them to the Conference South title in 2013/14.
“The end of the season can’t come quickly enough for Eastleigh Football Club and that’s terrible for a club that’s had the successes we have,” said Hill.
“But whatever differences the fans have got with any of the players – or with me – I’m asking them to come out and support the team.
“The team is the most important thing and everyone, me included, needs to get behind them.
“We’ve done amazing to get the points we have and, if we stay up, which I think we will, I don’t want to go into the last game of the season with just a two or three-point gap.”
Hill did not return to Eastleigh to win any popularity contests. He came back to his beloved Silverlake because he cannot bear to see the club go downhill.
“I’ve not come back to be the big ‘I am’, I’m in a position where I have to do what I think is right for the club in the short-term. I can’t have any sentiment at the moment,” he stressed.
“We had supporters travel all the way to North Ferriby which I appreciate is not just round the corner.
“If we don’t win, I’m the first person to get frustrated, but at the minute we’ve got to put that frustration to one side and just concentrate on getting behind the team.
“So much has gone on this season that any amount of people could take the blame.
“If people aren't happy with me, so be it, but please trust me and come out and support the team.
“It’s time to put differences to one side and let’s get to the end of the season…then we’ll have the inquest.”
Tomorrow's visitors Bromley are a team bang in form, having won three in a row, scoring ten in the process - five of them from ex-Charlton youngster Tobi Sho-Silva.
Eastleigh's on-loan Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close is still injured, while veteran centre-back Paul Reid is touch and go.
“Reidy’s body is sore, but he once played two-and-a-half games for Eastleigh with a broken leg,” said Hill. “Sometimes you have to protect him from himself.”