Hill: Eastleigh must make sure of play-offs

Richard Hill

Richard Hill

First published in Sport Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

RICHARD Hill insists the Skrill Conference South title is Bromley’s to lose.

For what seems a rain-hit eternity, Hill’s Eastleigh side have been treading water in second place, marooned 11 points behind the Kent table-toppers with three games in hand.

A torrent of wet-weather postponements, combined with FA Trophy commitments, have contrived to ensure the Spitfires have had limited chances to close the gap. And, when one such opportunity did present itself at Tonbridge Angels on Monday, Eastleigh blew it.

Bromley had made a rare slip two days earlier, beaten 3-2 at bottom-of-the-table Dorchester.

But, instead of capitalising, the Spitfires themselves came unstuck against relegation strugglers, beaten 2-1 by Tommy Warrilow’s Angels for the second time this season.

With three games in hand and a trip to Bromley to come, all is far from lost for Eastleigh in their quest for the league title and automatic promotion.

But little more than two months of the season remain and, with every passing week, Hill reckons the Spitfires’ chances of reeling in their rivals are diminishing.

“We are under unbelievable pressure to win our games in hand and I genuinely believe it’s going to be difficult to try and close that gap,” he said.

“We had three home games postponed and, on each occasion, Bromley played.

“We also had a reasonable Trophy run and those two things combined have put us back six games.

“If we’d played those games and maintained our points average, we would be ahead of Bromley by now. “But we’ve been 11 points behind for about six weeks and we can’t get close enough to put any pressure on them because we’ve not been playing.

“In my opinion, the competition is now Bromley’s to lose.” In hindsight Hill believes he made a mistake by agreeing to play Tonbridge on Monday following last Saturday’s postponement.

Flexible With the weather forecasters predicting a reasonably dry start to the week, the clubs made a flexible arrangement to try for Monday and, if not, go for Tuesday or Wednesday instead.

On reflection, the Silverlake boss says it was wrong to just try and get the game played at all costs.

He said: “I learned the other night that I’d fallen into the mindset of just trying to fulfil a fixture. That’s how it’s become in our league.

“Because of that, I don’t think I prepared the players properly and I’ll take the blame.

“This was the only week ourselves and Tonbridge had free and, because I want to avoid playing on Thursdays if at all possible, I’ve allowed a situation to develop where we didn’t train between Thursday and Monday.

“I’m not saying the players didn’t prepare themselves properly, but if we’d played Tonbridge on Tuesday I could have got them in for training on Monday.

“I was as much a part of the decision to play on Monday as Tommy Warrilow and Tonbridge, so I’m not having a go, but I know when I’ve done wrong and I will not do it again.

“Monday was just another game ticked off and one less opportunity to claw back points on Bromley.

“In my opinion, the gap is too big to close now. We need to make sure we secure a play-off place.”

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