TONBRIDGE Angels again proved a devil of an obstacle for Eastleigh in the Skrill Conference South.
The Kent club – a lowly third to bottom – completed an unlikely double over Richard Hill’s pre-season title favourites with a 2-1 win at the Longmead Stadium.
Back in November the Spitfires turned in what Hill branded an “unacceptable” performance when beaten 2-1 at the Silverlake by an Angels side who battled through 88 minutes with ten men.
This game should then have been all about revenge but, shockingly, Eastleigh found themselves 2-0 down at half-time.
Tonbridge inflicted the first blow with just nine minutes gone when Michael Bakare, a recent signing from Dover, fired low past Ross Flitney from 12 yards.
Nathaniel Pinney had a ‘goal’ scrubbed out for offside before the Angels legally doubled their lead on 35 minutes when Henry Muggeridge cut the back for Mark Lovell to flick home.
Eastleigh came out fully fired up after the break and quickly halved the deficit when Stuart Fleetwood found the roof of the net from ten yards.
That signalled all-out attack from the visitors but Jai Reason spooned one over, Fleetwood bent a good shot wide and substitute Craig McAllister was foiled in a one-on-one with ‘keeper Clark Masters who later saved Chris Todd’s header.
Both sides appealed unsuccessfully for penalties on Bakare and Reason respectively and, in between, Muggeridge rattled an Eastleigh post.
With league leaders Bromley having come unstuck at struggling Dorchester on Saturday, it leaves an all too familiar look to the table with Eastleigh still trailing the Kent pacemakers by 11 points with three games in hand. Bromley are due to visit Staines tonight, while Hill’s Spitfires return to action at Farnborough on Saturday.