Eastleigh 2 Dover 2.

FOR a second week running Eastleigh were held on home territory by one of their former managers.

This time it was Andy Hessenthaler who left the Silverlake with a share of the points – but, truth to tell, his Dover Athletic side were desperately unlucky not to get all three.

Having seized a second-minute lead through Ben Williamson, Eastleigh were plunged into 2-1 arrears by their lively second-to-bottom visitors before top scorer Paul McCallum sprang them out of jail with his third goal in five days.

The Spitfires welcomed Max Stryjek, Michael Green and Reda Johnson back to their starting line-up, with Alex Wynter joining Ross Flitney on the bench, while right wing-back Josh Hare – Hessenthaler’s nephew – was ruled out by a thigh injury.

Despite the reshuffle, Eastleigh clicked into their rhythm immediately, stunning their former boss with a goal inside two minutes.

Mark Yeates was fouled centrally some 22 yards out and sent in a curling free kick which was pushed away by visiting keeper Mitch Walker.

Joey Jones, playing on the right of defence, picked up the pieces and delivered for BEN WILLIAMSON to tuck away his fourth goal of the campaign.

On 12 minutes more Yeates magic resulted in a teasing delivery from the right which was marginally beyond the reach of top scorer Paul McCallum’s outstretched boot.

But it was far from one-way traffic with Stryjek cutting out Jamie Allen’s shot after a sustained spell of Dover pressure and then Inih Effiong heading over from a Bobby-Joe Taylor corner.

After Dover had had a penalty appeal waved away, Eastleigh broke instantly and Walker dived bravely at McCallum’s feet as the striker attempted to capitalise on Williamson’s deft pass forward.

But the visitors clearly fancied their chances of unsettling the Spitfires’ defence and their tenacity paid off when Stuart Lewis – a former Wycombe teammate of Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens – drove a shot goalwards which landed at the feet of EFFIONG who thumped in the 20th-minute equaliser.

Eastleigh patiently kept playing their football and, with the half-hour mark approaching, their front two pairing threatened again with McCallum this time picking out Williamson, but again Walker claimed the ball off his toes.

The Spitfires suffered a setback on 36 minutes when Jones hobbled out of the action after being accidently kicked on the back of the leg by Walker as he tried to catch out the 'keeper at a goal kick.

The ex-Woking man, only recently back to full fitness, was unable to continue after treatment, so Wynter – himself only 70 per cent fit - was summoned from the bench.

As a hectic half of action drew to a close, McCallum flicked a back-header over after being picked out by another Yeates delivery from the right.

Half-time: Eastleigh 1 Dover 1.

The second half began in much the same vein with Eastleigh trying to play to their strengths and Dover looking seriously threatening every time the yellow shirts swarmed forward.

The first real chance of the half went the Spitfires’ way with Williamson having a goal-bound shot blocked following a return pass from Wynter.

It was Dover, though, who made the breakthrough as Eastleigh were given a dose of their own medicine from a beautifully worked free-kick awarded for Andrew Boyce’s foul on Antony Jeffery.

Instead of delivering straight into the area, Lewis cutely picked out Mitch Brundle’s darting run. He fired the ball goalwards and it was former Eastleigh favourite JAI REASON, of all people, who made it 2-1 to the visitors from close range.

As Eastleigh attempted to make amends, Johnson’s towering header was clawed from under the bar by Walker.

But the Spitfires’ giant defender then followed Boyce into the referee’s notebook for bringing down the livewire Jeffery as Dover once again looked menacing on the break.

As Jeffery continued to run riot, he earned a free-kick off Boyce right on the edge of the box before again outpacing the Eastleigh defence. This time he scooted the ball through to Jamie Allen, whose shot rebounded behind off Johnson’s toe.

As the Dover corners kept coming, Brundle’s header was blocked and then Reason was roundly booed by those who used to adore him for what they perceived to be feigning injury.

Reason, though, went off holding his groin to be replaced by ex-Havant & Waterlooville man Alfie Pavey, while young Ollie Dennett replaced Oscar Gobern for Eastleigh.

Home hearts almost sank when Dover’s Kevin Lokko went close with a header from a corner, but on-loan Sunderland keeper Stryjek lifted spirits when, not for the first time, he came tearing out of his area.

On this occasion he marauded his way right up to halfway line - much to the amusement of the 1,430 crowd.

It wasn’t long before Eastleigh fans were breathing another huge sigh of relief when, after a searing run down the right, Josh Passley’s cross fizzed behind the giant figure of Effiong lurking ominously in front of goal.

At that stage if was hard to see a way back for Eastleigh but, wouldn’t you just know it, they dragged themselves level from yet another Yeates set-piece with 86 minutes gone.

The Irishman was fouled from behind by Taylor on the right and, for the third time in five days, he picked out McCALLUM who headed in his 12th goal of the season.

It was bad luck on a Dover side who dominated the corner count 14-5, but that won’t worry the ninth-placed Spitfires whose impressive run rolled on to just one defeat in 14 National League games.

Eastleigh: Max Stryjek, Joey Jones, Michael Green, Cav Miley, Reda Johnson, Andrew Boyce, Joey Jones (Alex Wynter, 36), Oscar Gobern (Ollie Dennett, 74), Paul McCallum, Ben Williamson (James Constable, 87), Mark Yeates. Subs (not used): Ross Flitney, Tom Bearwish.

Referee: Paul Howard.

Attendance: 1,430