EASTLEIGH'S dream of hosting Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round was crushed by a 3-1 defeat to Newport County on Tuesday evening.

Paul McCallum had drawn the Spitfires level with a brilliant volley before James Clarke and Will Evans fired the Welsh side into the next round.

Richard Hill's side continued to search for a way back into the game, but were unable to create any meaningful late chances. 

Eastleigh made two changes from their side that lost 1-0 to Southend United on Saturday as Nigel Atangana and captain Jake Taylor returned.

There was no place for Southampton’s Lewis Payne in Newport’s starting lineup despite him setting up their winner at Doncaster Rovers last time out.

The size of the occasion was amplified by the players walking out as flames burst out of cannons placed on either side of the tunnel.

Eastleigh got off to a disastrous start in front of a sell-out crowd, falling behind within the opening three minutes.

Evans drove at the hosts’ backline before feeding Aaron Wildig, who took the ball around Joe McDonnell and shot into the empty net.

Things almost went from bad to worse minutes later when Seb Palmer-Houlden flashed a volley just past the far post.

The hosts slowly began to grow into the game, but McDonnell was forced to make a point-blank save to deny Scott Bennett from a corner.

McCallum, who had scored 24 goals prior to this game, was forced to live off scraps as Eastleigh’s final ball let them down on three occasions.

Instead, it was Newport who came the closest to scoring the second goal.

Wildig bombed on from midfield but he turned Adam Lewis’ cross into the side netting.

Saints youngster Payne was introduced at the break for County. The substitution marked his return to the Silverlake after a short loan spell at the Spitfires last season.

With Hill’s halftime words still ringing in their ears, Eastleigh struck level on 48 minutes in spectacular fashion.


Nick Townsend could do very little as McCallum sent a thunderous volley crashing into the net from the edge of the box.

Eastleigh were only level for 12 minutes, however.

Clarke rose highest in the box to head in his second across both ties, despite the best efforts of McCallum to clear on the line.

With his side chasing the game, Hill made two changes, introducing Ryan Clampin and Jayden Harris on 70 minutes.

The duo soon combined down the left to set up McCallum, who lacked composure and sent his eight-yard effort over the bar.  

That missed opportunity proved to be costly as Evans wrapped up the game for Newport on 78 minutes with an emphatic low drive into the near post.

McDonnell had to produce a fine fingertips save just three minutes later to prevent Bryn Morris from adding a fourth.

Chris Maguire tried his luck from a distance in additional time, although his effort did little to test Townsend between the sticks.

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Clements (Harris, 70’), Panter (Clampin, 70’), Croll, Francillette, Boldewijn, Taylor (Rutherford, 83'), Atangana, McCallum, Quigley, Maguire.

Goal: McCallum 48'.

Unused subs: Scott, Clampin, Martin, Barlow, Hodson, Nwabuokei, Harris, Yang.

Newport: Townsend, McLoughlin, Lewis (Payne, h-t), Delaney, Bennett, Clarke, Morris, Charsley, Wildig (Waite, 77'), Palmer-Houlden, Evans.

Goals: Wilding 3', Clarke 60', Evans 78'.

Unused subs: Maxted, Bright, Rai, Wood, Jameson, Bondswell, Sanca.

Attendance: 5,075.

Referee: Sam Allison.