EASTLEIGH’s 2-1 win at Hartlepool yesterday will go down as a triumph in the face of adversity.

With an injury list already containing Ben Williamson, Paul McCallum, Sam Togwell, Gavin Hoyte, Ryan Cresswell, Michael Green and Mark Childs, the Spitfires could have done without defender Reda Johnson pulling out of the seven-hour slog north after sustaining a dead leg in training.

It left manager Richard Hill to name coach Ben Strevens on the bench, along with defender Paul Reid who is now juggling secretarial duties with his head of recruitment role.

Saturday’s success, secured by early second-half strikes from skipper Callum Howe and Mark Yeates, ended a month-long wait for a Vanarama National League victory following five draws and one defeat.

“I’ve taken some stick for drawing so many games, but it'd be interesting to know how many other clubs could go to Hartlepool with eight players missing – plus young Harvey Read – and win,” said Hill.

“It makes it really difficult when you get to the last training session and one your players pulls out complaining of a dead leg – plus we had to withdraw Greener for his own safety because he was prepared to play with a suspected broken foot.”

Despite those setbacks, Hill still felt justified in criticising his wafer-thin squad after a goalless first-half at Victoria Park.

He challenged them to prove him wrong – and they did so instantly, scoring twice in four early second-half minutes.

On-loan Lincoln centre-back Howe scrambled home from a corner and Mark Yeates quickly doubled the advantage with a lush half-volley from the edge of the box.

Hartlepool halved the deficit through Jack Munns in stoppage time.

“Everyone thinks Richard Hill's a shouter and a screamer, but he isn’t,” said the boss.

“But sometimes he gets a bit upset and tells people what he thinks. I told them collectively at half-time that it wasn’t acceptable, our tempo wasn’t great and we weren’t good in possession either.

“But the boys did great second half. It was a scruffy first goal but, after all the rubbish we’ve had - time added on that shouldn’t have been, penalties awarded against us that weren’t penalties and offside goals ruled out that weren’t offside – we deserved a sloppy, horrible goal. So did Callum Howe. He's been brilliant for us.

“Our second was a class finish by Yeatesy. He took a touch and knew exactly where the ’keeper was.”

With no midweek game, Hill will hope to have at least a couple of his walking wounded back for Saturday’s home test against Chester.

“I’ve never known injuries like it," he sighed. "But you have to give credit to the chairman for allowing me to give the squad some depth.

“Ben Williamson had a slight reaction to his hamstring after going on for ten minutes (against Fylde) last week. He’s done no more damage, but I kept him out completely to give him another couple of weeks.”