Eastleigh 2 Havant & Waterlooville 1.

EASTLEIGH won this afternoon's National League derby against Havant & Waterlooville by a Hare's breadth to leave themselves three points shy of the play-off zone.

Just three days after his uncharacteristic error had set the Spitfires on the slippery slope to a 3-0 defeat at Ebbsfleet, right wing-back Josh Hare atoned in spectacular style with an 85th-minute winner at the Silverlake Stadium.  

Eastleigh again lined up without the injured Danny Hollands, while Michael Green was serving the second of a three-match ban after being sent off in the 2-2 Boxing Day draw at Westleigh Park.

Targetman Paul McCallum returned to the starting line-up following a groin strain.

After a messy opening five minutes, the first incident of note came with a handball appeal by McCallum against Hawks' left-back Rory Williams, who had just gifted the ball on a plate to Mark Yeates, but referee Richard Hulme was having none of it.

Fluent football was in short supply early on and, unusually for Eastleigh, nothing came of their early set-pieces either.

It took 14 minutes before the Spitfires got their first shot away – Mark Yeates firing straight down the throat of Hawks keeper Ben Dudzinski from McCallum’s cushioned lay-off.

Eastleigh ramped up the pressure, however, and it took a smart double save from Dudzinski to keep out, first, Joey Jones and, then, Yeates on the follow-up with 16 minutes gone.

The Spitfires new loan keeper Luke Southwood, from Reading, was finally called into action to punch away a testing cross from the right – the ball landing at the feet of Havant's Andreas Robinson who fired wildly over from distance.

Eastleigh then conjured up a useful cross of their own from Cav Miley, deputising for Green in the left wing-back role, but Ben Williamson couldn’t get sufficient power behind his header.

Jones then fired over from distance as Eastleigh continued to look for an opening against a well-drilled Havant & Waterlooville defence in a so-far tepid south coast derby.

The visitors, though lively on the break, offered little up front in the opening half-hour and, when Tyler Frost did eventually burst into the left of the area, he was left shaking his head as his shot flew woefully over.

With half-time approaching, the Spitfires raised their game again with Yeates driving in from the left to force a corner. The set-piece maestro delivered it deep to the back stick where right wing-back Josh Hare’s looping header was comfortable for Dudzinski.

Williamson then drilled a low shot wide from McCallum’s lay-off before another Yeates delivery, this time a free-kick awarded for Williams’ foul on the Irishman, ended with a harmless far-post header by the lively Jones.

Half-time: Eastleigh 0 Havant & Waterlooville 0.

With the New Year’s points there for the taking, it was Eastleigh who finally took the game by the scruff of the neck at the start of the second half.

The Spifires forced corner after corner and, after two close shaves for Havant & Waterlooville, their defence was finally breached on 57 minutes.

With Yeates’ set-piece skills coming to fruition, Alex Wynter’s powerful header from the Irishman's free-kick was brilliantly turned over by the excellent Dudzinski on 54 minutes and the keeper pushed the subsequent corner behind.

As the Eastleigh pressure mounted, Yeates delivered yet another testing corner and this time centre-back Andrew Boyce was desperately unlucky to see his power-packed header clatter off the post.

Something had to give and Havant were finally undone when, from Yeates’s next flag-kick from the right, the giant figure of skipper REDA JOHNSON planted a thumping downward header low into the net for 1-0.

But instead of ramming home their advantage, Eastleigh sat off their opponents with Southwood’s goal suddenly coming under threat.

A low Tyler Frost corner was well held by the loanee keeper under pressure from towering forward Nicke Kabamba who then headed narrowly over following a tenacious run and cross by former Follands wideman Williams.

On 70 minutes Havant’s Bradley Tarbuck escaped Miley’s attentions on the right but skewed his shot wide of the near post.

Having seen a two-goal lead evaporate at Westleigh Park last week, Eastleigh continued to dice with death against a reinvigorated Hawks side who looked in vain for a penalty when ex-Saint Oscar Gobern laid a hand on the shoulder of the falling Theo Lewis inside the box.

But the Hawks were not be denied and it was a combination of their two substitutes that brought them back on terms on 81 minutes.

Wes Fogden’s low shot was too hot for the diving Southwood to hold and the ball came loose for HASSAN JALLOH – newly signed from Hayes & Yeading – to bury the equaliser.

When Jalloh then galloped down the left and flashed a ball across the goalface just past the waiting Kabamba, it looked like being a long last ten minutes for the Spitfires against Lee Bradbury's admirably fit part-timers.

But, against the run of play, Eastleigh hit back in truly sensational style with 85 minutes on the clock.

A lightning break saw Yeates burst through the middle and pick out HARE on the right edge of the area. The rampaging wing-back caught the ball beautifully, rifling a breathtaking shot across Dudzinski and into the far top corner to the delight of the 2,104 crowd.

Eastleigh: Luke Southwood, Josh Hare, Cav Miley, Andrew Boyce, Reda Johnson, Alex Wynter, Joey Jones (Jack McKnight, 87), Oscar Gobern, Paul McCallum, Ben Williamson (Tom Bearwish, 87), Mark Yeates. Subs (not used): Chris Zebroski, Ollie Dennett, Lewis Harvey.

Havant & Waterlooville: Ben Dudzinski, Dan Strugnell, Rory Williams, Andreas Robinson, Ryan Woodford, Tyler Cordner, Theo Lewis, Bradley Tarbuck, Nick Kabamba, Alfie Rutherford (Wes Fogden, 67), Tyler Frost (Hassan Jalloh, 78). Subs (not used): Ibra Sekajjr, Alex Bradley, Chris Paul.

Referee: Richard Hulme.

Attendance: 2,104