EASTLEIGH can catapult themselves into the Vanarama National League play-off zone with victory at FC Halifax Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).

But they will be travelling to West Yorkshire without top gun James Constable who had his appendix removed yesterday while the Spitfires marched into sixth place with a 2-0 home win over relegation-haunted Altrincham.

All manager Chris Todd knew at five o'clock yesterday afternoon was that star striker Constable – scorer of 15 VNL goals – was in hospital with an abdominal problem.

It later emerged that it was appendicitis which more than likely means his season is over.

Constable said on social media that he was feeling much better and hoping to come out of hospital today.

But in response to friends wishing him a speedy recovery in time for the play-offs, the 31-year-old former Oxford United goal-getter, said: “Could be the season finished for me, only a couple of weeks left.”

Constable’s operation aside, it was an almost perfect weekend for the Spitfires who saw Tranmere Rovers drop out of the play-off frame with a 2-1 home defeat by Wrexham.

Fifth spot is now occupied by Braintree Town, 3-2 winners at Gateshead, who are a point above Eastleigh having played one game more.

“We’ve got three games left, some teams have got two and it’s going to go to the wire by the looks of it,” said Eastleigh boss Chris Todd. “But that’s what it’s like in this league.

“We’re looking forward to Halifax. If we dig in and make a big effort, hopefully we can get where we want to be.”

One lesson Eastleigh will hopefully have learned from yesterday is not to try too hard to force the issue.

With the half-time scoreline goalless against third-to-bottom Altrincham and frustration growing, Todd’s dressing message to his players was to relax and be patient and wait for their chances to come.

The Spitfires took that on board and, when they finally hit top gear after a stuttering first-half performance, their football – not to mention their finishing - was stunning.

With the hour mark approaching, Portsmouth loanee Matt Tubbs cut the ball back from the right bye-line for Jai Reason to rifle a first-time shot into the top corner.

Not to be outdone, Luke Coulson showed why Football League scouts are sitting up and taking notice,with a brilliant individual second.

With 70 minutes gone, he cut inside menacingly from the left before unleashing a thunderous strike into the far netting from 25 yards – the 22-year-old’s second goal in as many games.

“They’re not easy games,” said Todd. “They (Altrincham) are fighting for their lives and we just had to stay patient today.

“We got a bit frustrated with ourselves at half-time, but we can’t do that. No team will just roll over and give you three points.

“We had chances in the first half but didn’t take them and that puts you on edge then.

“But I told them at half-time just relax and be patient, we don’t want to force things. We did that a bit first-half trying to force things to get the goal, but sometimes you have to wait for it to come, which we did second half.

“We got the goal we deserved and then the free-flowing football came which was brilliant to watch from the sidelines.

“There’s quality in depth in my squad. They do the hard side right and the quality comes through.”

Coulson, voted sponsors' man-of-the-match, again caught the eye, bringing a knowing smile to the face of his manager.

"He's a player, that boy!" grinned Todd. "He's a youngster still only learning his trade, but he's got some talent that boy, I'll give him that."

Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Joe Partington, Michael Green, Ben Strevens (Matty Fanimo, 84), Will Evans, Jamie Turley, Andy Drury, Jai Reason, Yemi Odubade (Jack Midson, 71) , Matt Tubbs (Lee Cook, 84), Luke Coulson. Subs (unused): Michael Poke, Paul Reid.

Altrincham: Tim Deasy, Adam Griffin, Jake Moult, Gianluca Havern, Scott Leather, James Lawrie, Michael Rankine, Damien Reeves, Sam Heathcote (Adam Saville, 71), Josh Ginnelly, Ryan Crowther (Jordan Sinnott, 60). Subs (unused): Callum Williams, Josh O’Keefe, Rhain Davis.

Referee: Nigel Lugg Attendance: 2,034.