THEY may not have had the best of pre-seasons in terms of results, but manager Richard Hill rates his new-look Eastleigh squad highly.

So highly, in fact, that he believes it is the best group of players he has assembled in three years at the Silverlake – and, therefore, the best the Spitfires have ever had.

Saturday’s defeat at the hands of promoted Conference champions Barnet was Eastleigh’s third 2-0 reverse at home to League Two/Scottish Premiership opposition and, in all, they have won just two out of seven friendly workouts.

But, as with Oxford United the previous week, they matched Martin Allen’s Bees for decent spells of Saturday’s game only be undone by a couple of slack pieces of defending – this time in the opening 15 minutes – which must be eradicated before Saturday’s big Vanarama National League opener at Southport.

“The two goals we conceded today were preventable, the same as the two we conceded against Oxford were preventable.

“But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that Barnet are a decent team,” said Hill.

“Pre-season is a nightmare, you end up baby-sitting the players, and I just hope that with the calibre of player we’ve got here, we’ll be ready to go next week.

“Taking Tranmere and Grimsby out of the equation – and I only say that because of their stature – I’ve got the best job in non-League football. Eastleigh is the next best club.

“This is the best squad in my time here in terms of calibre and experience of player and, if it’s the best since I’ve been here, that means it’s got to be the best squad ever assembled at Eastleigh FC.

“Now we’ve got to make sure we look a bit more like a team than we do at the moment.”

"The pretend football's over and we need to go out and win games."

Having been caught cold by Andy Yiadom’s third-minute strike that went in off the post, Eastleigh – distracted by an alleged elbow on Andy Drury – slipped 2-0 down after 15 minutes when Bees skipper Mauro Vilhete scurried clear to beat keeper Michael Poke one-on-one.

With ex-Barnet wideman Lee Cook seemingly keen to prove a point against his old club, the Spitfires then enjoyed their best spell of the game – Cook himself going closest with a curling free-kick around the wall that keeper Jamie Stephens some scraped away for a corner.

The second half was something of a non-event. But with ex-Saints left-back Dan Harding away trying his luck with Scunthorpe, trialist Aswad Thomas will have done his cause no harm with two decent late deliveries that James Constable and Ben Strevens might have cashed in on.

Eastleigh: Michael Poke, Joe Partington, Michael Green (Aswad Thomas, 75), Jamie Turley, Paul Reid (Will Evans, 67), Yemi Odubade (Ross Lafayette, 56), James Constable, Jack Midson (Jack Alexander, 82), Ben Strevens, Lee Cook (Jai Reason, 56), Andy Drury. Sub (not used) Lewis Noice.