EASTLEIGH have ended March right where they wanted to be in the Skrill Conference South.
With eight matches to play, Richard Hill’s men sit top of the pile, two points clear of nearest rivals Bromley with two games in hand.
In an ideal world, they could have been an even more commanding position had they held onto the lead away to Hayes & Yeading yesterday and Bromley and third-placed Sutton not come back from behind to rescue a late Saturday point against Eastbourne and Bath respectively.
But Hill was reasonably satisfied with a 1-1 draw at Kingfield where Craig McAllister headed the Spitfires in front in first-half stoppage time before ex-Salisbury and Gosport Borough midfield Patrick Cox pulled a 71st-minute equaliser out of the Hayes hat.
It might have been a different story had Jai Reason not sent a good chance over from Ben Wright’s rolled ball across goal early in the second half. But, by the same token, Eastleigh would have lost it late on but for what Hill, below right, termed “an unbelievable save” at the death by Ross Flitney.
“We had the chance to make it more comfortable and we tried to control the game, but we got caught a bit on the break,” said Hill, who was again without Stuart Fleetwood and, also, Dean Beckwith, due to hamstring issues.
“The longer the game goes on, you drop a bit deeper, the midfield gets a bit more cautious and you invite them onto you – and, credit to Hayes, they had a go.
“It’s a game we should have won but, at the end of the weekend, everything’s the same as it was before.
“Everyone was in raptures when we won the other night (6-0 against Dorchester) to go top. Now we’ve drawn a game of football and we’ve lost no ground.
“People are a bit disillusioned because it was an opportunity today but, equally, that opportunity could have gone against us. But it didn’t and nothing’s changed.
“People were telling me a few weeks ago that they’d rather have the points than games in hand. Now we’ve got both.
“But there’s still a long way to go and there will be a few more twists and turns to come. “We’ll see where we are in a couple of games. We’ll know more by Easter.”
Eastleigh hit the road again to mid-table Bishop’s Stortford tomorrow – their fourth away game in five – and return home on Saturday to face relegation-threatened Whitehawk.