EASTLEIGH are flinging open their Silverlake Stadium doors for another free entry match against fourth-to-bottom Dartford in the Vanarama Conference tonight.

And the exciting news for fans is that the newly constructed 2,300-seater south stand has been given the thumbs up from building control and health and safety advisory and will be open to spectators free of charge.

“It’s not the official opening tonight because we still don’t yet have a bar, toilet facilities or turnstiles in place but, to all intents and purposes the stand is ready for use with the super structure and tarmac all completed,” explained Spitfires chief executive Mark Jewell “We’re formulating a plan for a half-season ticket for the new stand and we’re hoping that by allowing fans to sit in there for a free ‘taster’ tonight it might enthuse a few of them to sit in there on a regular basis.

“Once we get the turnstiles in, that end will be sectioned off, but fans can come in through the normal turnstiles tonight and walk round there if they want to.”

Barring replays in the FA Cup or Trophy, tonight’s match will be the Spitfires’ last taste of home action until Boxing Day when the official stand opening should go ahead.

Richard Hill’s men were already looking at four consecutive away games in December when a fifth one reared its head yesterday when the draw for the FA Trophy first round proper was made.

It pits them away to Vanarama Conference rivals Woking on Saturday week, hot on the heels of this Sunday’s (2pm) FA Cup second round tie at Southport and next Wednesday’s rearranged league outing to Alfreton Town.

The postponed Hampshire FA Senior Cup trip to Horndean is rescheduled for Tuesday, December 16, followed by a league trip to AFC Telford on December 20.

The Spitfires finally return home on Boxing Day to face Woking again in the first of two festive league fixtures against the Cards.

With just 20 league games played this season, the 11th-placed Spitfires have as many as four games in hand over the sides above them.

“The fixture list is awful,” admitted Hill. “We’ve got nine games to play between now and January 4 and only three of them are at home. It’s not ideal, but it can’t be helped – at least we’ll have a nice pitch to play on!”

Play-maker Jai Reason returns tonight following a one-match suspension, but centre-back Paul Reid misses out to a one-match ban and left-back Michael Green (ankle ligaments) is touch and go after missing Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Torquay which ended the Spitfires’ seven-match unbeaten run.

“Prior to Saturday I was a bit disappointed to have got a Tuesday fixture ahead of the biggest game in the club’s history at Southport on Sunday,” admitted Hill. “But now I’m glad we’ve got a midweek game because it might concentrate us a bit more after Torquay. Hopefully we can right a few wrongs from Saturday.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve always managed to score when we’ve been in the ascendancy, but we didn’t do that at Torquay. We started very badly, which is not like us, and when we did get hold of the football we didn’t pass it as well as we have done and we were a bit one-dimensional.

“We were missing a couple of players (Reason and Green) we rely on a lot with the way we play and, although we had decent possession, we lacked a clinical finish.

“But give Torquay credit, they weathered the storm - unlike some of the other teams we’ve played.”

FA Trophy first round (local draws, to be played Saturday, December 13): Woking v Eastleigh, Weymouth v Havant & Waterlooville, Wimborne Town v Oxford City, Basingstoke Town v Gosport Borough, Maidenhead Utd v Staines Town or Poole Town.