RICHARD Hill paid Eastleigh the ultimate compliment after calling time on this three-year reign as manager today.

Hill, who quit in the wake of last night's calamitous 5-2 defeat at home to Dover Athletic, includes assistant manager stints at QPR, Wycombe Wanderers and Gillingham on his CV.

But, taking all aspects of the club into account, the 52-year-old ranks Eastleigh as the best he has ever worked for.

“I’ve no axe to grind and no bitterness,” said Hill, stating simply that the time was “right” to leave.

“I’ve worked for a fantastic chairman, Stewart Donald, who has been amazing to me for three years. There’s never been a cross word, he’s never interfered, he’s a manager’s dream.

“I’ve had three good seasons but there comes a point, especially in football, when it’s time to go.

“Like I’ve always said, it’s not important who manages Eastleigh, what’s important is that the club is successful.”

With that in mind, Hill believes that after a sorry September run of five games without a win, the Spitfires would benefit from “fresh impetus and fresh ideas.”

He told Donald exactly that in a meeting this morning and, with regret, his resignation was accepted.

“Stew wasn’t comfortable with it and asked me to think about it, but he also listened and understood,” said Hill. "As always, he allowed me to make my own decision.

“I leave with a heavy heart but, by doing this now, I’ve allowed whoever comes in to take Eastleigh to the play-offs at least.

“I could have hung around taking up time and resources but, for me, this is the right thing to do even though neither party really wants to do it. I’ve got a real affinity for this club and, like I said to Stew, it feels like a break-up.”

After being appointed as Ian Baird’s successor in September 2012, Hill led Eastleigh to the Conference South play-offs and won the title in 2013/14.

Last season the Spitfires took non-League’s elite by storm, finishing fourth before losing to Grimsby in the play-off semi-finals.

The aim was to go one better this year but, after an unbeaten August, the wheels have come off with four defeats and a draw.

Injuries and some debatable refereeing decisions haven’t helped and the team looked shell-shocked in the closing stages of the Dover game after fit-again goalkeeper Ross Flitney had been sent off.

“I’ve had feelings before when I felt I was banging my head against a brick wall, but last night was the first time I took my football boots home with me. I usually leave them at the ground ready for work,” said Hill.

“This football club doesn’t deserve to have gone through what it has. It doesn’t matter about me, it’s time for a new face and new ideas.”

Assistant manager Chris Todd has been placed in charge of first-team affairs for Saturday’s trip to third-placed Wrexham.

Thanking Hill for three great years, an EFC statement said: “He has delivered on every target he has been set and has done so within much tighter constraints than is realised.

“He has always acted in the best interests of the club and his actions today further demonstrate his passion for Eastleigh FC and desire for the club to progress.”