TEN-MAN Eastleigh stumbled to their third defeat of the season at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon, beaten 3-1 by table-topping Wrexham.

Poor defending sent them in 2-0 down at the break and their afternoon took a turn for the worse when central defender Andrew Boyce, on as a half-time substitute, was sent off for a second bookable offence with 64 minutes gone.

It was a horrible case of deja-vu for the Spitfires' No14 who had been red-carded in the corresponding fixture last term.

Paul McCallum pulled one back for the ten men, but Mike Fondop wiped out all hope of a fightback as early pacesetters Wrexham made it four wins and a draw from their opening five games.

The Spitfires made one change from their 1-0 midweek win over Bromley, bringing in Danny Hollands for ex-Saints midfielder Oscar Gobern.

Boyce returned to the squad after a back injury, but was named on the bench as manager Andy Hessenthaler stuck with a back four of Josh Hare, Alex Wynter, Reda Johnson and Michael Green.

Eastleigh, boosted by their midweek clean sheet, were put under early pressure by the league leaders with Rekell Pike’s flicked header from a left-wing free kick deflected behind for a corner and then Eastleigh keeper Graham Stack seemingly having the ball bundled out of his hands as he was tested by an angled shot by Huddersfield loan man Pyke.

Before the Spitfires could settle into their rhythm, they found themselves behind with just nine minutes gone.

It was a goal that will have angered manager Andy Hessenthaler as Luke Summerfield too easily breached the home defence with a deep free-kick and MANNY SMITH sneaked between defender and keeper to volley the ball home from close quarters.

Worse was to come for Eastleigh just four minutes later when, once again, their defensive frailties from last season came back to haunt them.

Summerfield was again the instigator with a probing set-piece that appeared to frighten the life out of the Stoneham Lane side and, amid the panic, central defender ALEX WYNTER got caught under the ball and headed it over stranded keeper Stack and into his own net.

The Spitfires rallied and it needed alert defending by the Dragons to deal, first, with a teasing Mark Yeates ball in and, then, with an excellent Michael Green cross which so nearly fell perfectly for Chris Zebroski at the near post.

With Eastleigh continuing to be troubled by the high ball, Fondop rose above the giant figure of Johnson with 35 minutes gone, but his header was straight at Stack.

Spitfires left-back Green was then booked for an over-zealous challenge on Jordan Maguire-Drew – the Brighton loanee taking the free-kick himself and bending it beyond the far upright.

Wrexham keeper Rob Lainton came out positively to beat Ben Williamson to a throughball on the brink of half-time, but the Port Vale loan stopper wasn’t seriously tested during a desperately disappointing half for the Spitfires.

Half-time: Eastleigh 0 Wrexham 2.

Hessenthaler made a change for the start of the second period, bringing Boyce back into the equation in a back three and sacrificing the attacking presence of Zebroski.

But still Wrexham looked the team most likely to bag the third goal of the game – and they so nearly did in the 53rd minute when Maguire-Drew’s whipped-in free kick nicked the crossbar on its way over.

Eastleigh responded with a decent spell of pressure but Wrexham, who had last conceded in the penultimate game of the season, dealt strongly with everything the Spitfires could throw at them.

Disaster then struck for Hessenthaler’s men as substitute Boyce picked up two bookings in rapid succession – for fouls on Maguire-Drew and Fondop – to get his marching orders a mere 19 minutes after going on.

That looked like curtains for Eastleigh but, remarkably, the ten men roused themselves and pulled it back to 2-1 with 68 minutes gone.

Yeates delivered from the left and, with no one to lay the ball off to, big No9 PAUL McCALLUM took it on himself, turning and drilling a powerful, low shot past a stunned Lainton. It was Eastleigh’s first effort on target in the game and prevented Wrexham making it six clean sheets in a row.

Just prior to that goal, Shaun Pearson had headed narrowly over for Wrexham from a corner, but the next two headed opportunities fell to the revitalised home side.

McCallum’s downward effort was cleared by Pearson and Johnson’s effort was straight at Lainton.

Eastleigh, who had introduced Gobern for Danny Hollands after 62 minutes, then replaced Ben Williamson with James Constable on 75.

But, having dragged one good chance across the Eastleigh goal, Fondop broke home hearts by scoring a third for Wrexham with 82 minutes gone.

It was a calamity for the Spitfires’ defensive colossus Johnson who was muscled aside by the Dragons’ man on the left of the area - FONDOP’S shot going in off the far post.

Johnson so nearly rectified that error three minutes later but his towering header struck the crossbar amid a mass of bodies in the Wrexham box.

McCallum then nodded one just over as ten-man Eastleigh continued to throw men forward but, for a second Saturday home game running, they were left to rue some shaky defending that ultimatley cost them the game.

Eastleigh: Graham Stack, Josh Hare, Michael Green, Danny Hollands (Oscar Gobern, 62), Reda Johnson, Alex Wynter, Mark Yeates, Cav Miley, Paul McCallum, Ben Williamson (James Constable, 75), Chris Zebroski (Andrew Boyce, 46). Subs (not used):Ross Flitney, Ollie Dennett.

Referee: Carl Brook.

Attendance: 1,717.