Mac: Eastleigh can make Football League

Hampshire Chronicle: Craig McAllister Craig McAllister

Craig McAllister insists Eastleigh can emulate Crawley Town and Fleetwood by completing a meteoric rise through the non-league ranks to the Football League.

The Spitfires were crowned champions of the Skrill South on Good Friday, with two games of the season left.

That prompted the striker to remark that Richard Hill’s side have what it takes to climb into the Football League. McAllister, a major part of the Crawley side that gained promotion to League Two in 2010/11, scoring 12 goals, said: “The club have to take it season to season but we’ll go into next season with good confidence.

“Listen, you only need to look at Crawley, Fleetwood and teams like that which have done it (reached the Football League) in previous years.

“I really believe with what’s been put in at the club a lot can happen.

“You have to have a lot of luck but you can get there if you want to. It’s down to us.”

The Scottish striker rejoined Eastleigh in 2012 after leaving the club a decade earlier.

He has been a key part of the promotion-winning squad, netting 15 times in all competitions.

The 33-year-old has a huge amount of Conference Premier experience, having also played for Newport, Stevenage Borough and Luton Town at that level. That knowledge has led him to reflect that the Spitfires have similar credentials to those clubs mentioned.

Fleetwood won the Northern Premier League in 2007/08 and were then promoted via the Conference North play-offs in 2009/10. They then went on a 29-game unbeaten run to climb to the Football League in 2011/12.

Crawley’s rise saw them win the Southern Premier League in 2003/04 before winning the Conference in 2010/11 and then promotion to League One a season later.

Newport County and AFC Wimbledon have also won the Conference South title in the last six seasons and have since progressed to the Football League.

Eastleigh could be on a similar path; they scooped the Wessex Premier in 2002/03, won the Ryman Premier League play-offs in 2004/05, and have now added the Conference South title. “It’s quite an exciting time whenever you win promotion, you can say that any level, but I’m absolutely delighted for Eastleigh,” said McAllister.

“It sounds a cliché but the lads want to win and we’ve got six, seven, eight players that have that winning mentality.

“It rubs off on everyone, so it’s a little bit of excitement for those who haven’t done it before.

“It (Conference Premier) is where you want to be when you’re playing non-league.

“It will be a good test and we’re all looking forward to it.”

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