Eastleigh will have to set their sights on a different striker this summer now that Conference outfit Stevenage Borough have won the race for Craig McAllister.

McAllister, who is about to turn 24, became a free agent when his two-year deal at Basingstoke Town expired at the end of the season and has opted to link up with former Farnborough supremo Graham Westley at Broadhall Way.

The Southampton-based marksman also caught the eye of several league clubs during two prolific seasons at Basingstoke, which yielded 65 goals.

The former Pirelli General man had trials with QPR, Luton and Stoke City last term and has attracted several more inquiries in recent weeks.

Eastleigh, who sold McAllister to Basingstoke for £4,000 in March 2001, would dearly love to have got him back for their Isthmian Premier Division baptism next season.

But McAllister - a good friend of Eastleigh defender Lee Bright - had his heart set on climbing the pyramid and said: "Having seen the facilities at Stevenage and everything about it, I'm very happy and excited.

"I've enjoyed my time at Basingstoke but I want to progress in my career and play at the highest level I can."

Westley, who has also signed goalkeeper Andy Woodman from Oxford United and midfielder Rob Quinn from Bristol Rovers, said: "Craig is out of contract for the first time and was expected to move into the Football League after being the subject of five-figure bids in 2002/3 and getting an international call-up.

"But he's turned down those approaches, as well as advances from Barnet and Aldershot, to pledge his future to Borough.

"He's a tremendous prospect and I expect him to make his mark on the Conference."

Ambitious Eastleigh also missed out on their other summer target James Taylor, who signed a new deal for Havant & Waterlooville when they clinched promotion to the Conference 2.

But Ten Acres boss Paul Doswell has taken both losses in his stride, saying: "We tend to try and sign the best, so you have to accept that if you go for that type of player, there's every chance you won't get them.

"We needed to be in the Conference South to stand a chance of getting those two.

"Craig's a mate of mine and I wish him all the best. He's got himself a superb deal with Stevenage. It's a great move for him.

"We had a 25 per cent sell-on clause in the deal that took him to Basingstoke, but we won't get that now."