PAUL McCallum’s 23 goals this season have been a cornerstone of Eastleigh’s play-off push.

And even though his penalty miss at AFC Fylde yesterday proved an unfortunate turning point in the Spitfires’ 4-2 defeat, manager Ben Strevens apportioned no blame to the Spitfires No9.

Having sped into a two-goal lead at Mill Farm, Eastleigh were pegged back to 2-1 before McCallum had the chance to stretch their advantage again after being blatantly pushed by Jay Lynch.

But the Coasters’ keeper rapidly redeemed himself by saving the spot kick.

Fylde went on to strike three times in the second half to sink the Spitfires’ hopes of climbing to fifth.

But, with five games to go – starting at Leyton Orient tomorrow – Eastleigh remain masters of their own play-off destiny in seventh spot.

Stunned boss Ben Strevens said: “I can’t believe we lost that game of football.

“We had a penalty to go 3-1 up and, if we’d scored that just before half-time, could I honestly see them coming back in the second half ? No I couldn’t.

“But look, I ain’t going to have a go at Paul McCallum. He's been brilliant for us.

"He’s scored 23 goals this season, it’s incredible, and only one of them has been a penalty.

“We’ve only had two penalties all year. He (McCallum) scored on the first day of the season and we haven’t had one since.

“He’s probably beating himself up, but I ain’t going to have a go at anyone for taking a penalty and missing. I missed plenty in my career – too many to mention.

“We could have scored so many goals today, but we’ve missed a penalty, hit the crossbar and their goalie’s pulled off two or three good saves,” added Strevens.

“I don’t think Luke (Southwood, Eastleigh keeper) had much else to do, but it seems like every attempt Fylde had on target went in.

“We’ve conceded two goals from set plays, which I’m not happy about, and, for their third, we’ve let their lad come inside and open up.

"I’m not too worried about their fourth because we were trying to push forward and go for it.”