THE feeling among the Eastleigh management team was that the players had let themselves down in yesterday's 2-0 National League defeat at Gateshead.

Director of football Richard Hill said as much while co-commentating for BBC Radio Solent and manager Andy Hessenthaler confessed: “I don’t think we’d have scored if we’d played all night – and the goals we conceded were very poor.”

It was the second of two arduous treks north for the Spitfires, coming just four days after a 3-2 loss at Barrow.

But Gateshead had slogged out a 2-2 draw at Halifax less than 48 hours earlier and few would dispute manager Steve Watson’s assertion that they fully deserved their first win in nine games.

“Eastleigh had spells, but it could have been more comfortable,” he said after goals by Danny Johnson and Jordan Burrow had wrapped up the points.

Ross Flitney, replacing the injured Graham Stack in the Eastleigh goal, almost handed Gateshead a fifth-minute lead when he lost his footing, leaving Johnson with an open goal, but the Heed striker couldn't find the target.

Flitney redeemed himself by brilliantly beating away Dan Johnson's point-blank header from Russell Penn's pull-back before Jordan Preston fired the rebound over.

Eastleigh's Chris Zebroki had stung the palms of Gateshead keeper James Montgomery as early as the third minute and the Spitfires should have done better on 38 minutes when Ryan Broom flicked on for Ben Williamson. But the striker, in a decent position position, tamely half-volleyed straight at the keeper.

It looked to be heading for 0-0 at the break but, with 45 minutes on the clock, the Spitfires' succumbed to a route-one goal -  Burrow chesting the ball into the path of Johnson who raced through to bury his 16th goal of the season.

Preston struck the woodwork with an angled strike early in the second half but Eastleigh failed to heed that warning and found themselves two goals down when Theo Vassell's delivery bounced off Burrow and looped over Flitney with 52 minutes gone.

Eastleigh piled some late pressure, but Mark Yeates, Williamson and Cav Miley all passed up chances before Preston's strike hit Flitney's legs. Johnson's close-range effort was then parried as far as Burrow who fired over from 15 yards.

The Spitfires, down to 16th and without a win in three, host Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday (7.45pm)