Eastleigh 2 Sheffield United  3

SHEFFIELD United’s incredible six-month unbeaten run remains intact.

But Eastleigh ran the promoted League One champions admirably close on a night of slick football at the Silverlake, which ended 3-2 in the Blades’ favour.

With United stroking the ball around supremely well on the new Stoneham Lane playing surface, Eastleigh saw little of the ball early on as persistent rain and a squally wind swirled around the stadium.

Yet it was the Spitfires who mustered the first effort on goal.

Following good hold-up play by Ross Stearn, James Constable’s ball from the right broke for summer signing Mark Yeates – a former Sheffield United player – who steered his shot just wide.

Nothing though could break United’s classy stride and, come the 14th minute, Chris Wilder’s men were 2-0 up.

Ex-Portsmouth man Enda Stevens struck first on nine minutes, given time and space in front of goal to convert Mark Duffy’s precision cross from the right.

That simple finish - the first goal Eastleigh have conceded all summer - was followed by one of beauty five minutes later.

Danny Lafferty had the 1,109 crowd marvelling at his sumptuous, swerving strike from 25 yards which left Spitfires’ keeper Graham Stack rooted to the spot.

Richard Hill’s new-look Spitfires kept their heads and halved the deficit with 28 minutes gone.

Stearn, transfer-listed at the start of the summer, was the architect, playing in Constable who calmly slotted past keeper Jamal Blackman for 2-1.

The Blades, who had travelled with a squad of 22, made wholesale changes for the second half and stretched their lead again seven minutes in.

Stack appeared to have snuffed out the danger, but the ball was pumped back into the six-yard box for Matt Done to thrash into the roof of the net.

Former Leyton Orient striker Paul McCallum and Constable both sent chances wide for Eastleigh, but some of United’s football was a joy to behold and it needed top-drawer saves from Stack to divert goalbound strikes from David Brooks and Done.

By then, Eastleigh had thrown on a job lot of substitutes, including latest signing Harvey Read and their last remaining trialist, midfielder David Ijaha from Plymouth Argyle.

The Spitfires made their final change on 85 minutes when Ben Strevens replaced the hard-working Constable – and it took the substitute less than two minutes to score.

Fellow sub Craig McAllister used his strength to hold the ball up, laying it off for the evergreen 37-year-old player-coach to sweep home for 3-2.

Eastleigh round off pre-season with a short trip to neighbours AFC Stoneham on Tuesday (August 1, 7.45pm). It coincides with the official unveiling of the Purples' new floodlights.

They kick off the new Vanarama National League season on the 3G pitch at Bromley next Saturday (August 5).

Eastleigh: Graham Stack, Gavin Hoyte, Michael Green, Sam Togwell, Reda Johnson, Andrew Boyce, James Constable, Paul McCallum, Mark Yeates, Ross Stearn, Danny Hollands. Subs (all used): Sam Wood, Jason Taylor, David Ijaha, Ayo Obileye, Craig McAllister, Harvey Read, Ben Strevens,

Attendance: 1,109.