Craig Stanley enjoys "perfect start" to Eastleigh career in 3-0 Conference Premier win at Nuneaton

Craig Stanley celebrates his goal

Craig Stanley celebrates his goal

First published in Sport Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

Craig Stanley admits it was the “perfect start” to his Eastleigh career after scoring a debut goal as the Spitfires beat Nuneaton 3-0 in their historic Conference Premier opener at Liberty Way.

The new midfielder, who arrived from Aldershot Town in the summer, scored an excellent curled effort from the edge of the box to make it 2-0 in Warwickshire and celebrated passionately in front of the travelling supporters.

The former Aldershot captain, who faces his old side on Thursday at The Silverlake Stadium (7.45), was delighted with how his first competitive appearance went.

“We played well, we were solid,” said Stanley. “They didn’t play anywhere near as well as they could, I played them last season and I know they’re capable of more.

“We have to give ourselves some credit, we created plenty of chances.

“I had a couple of shots in the first-half that didn’t come off, but you keep getting those opportunities and it’s one part of my game that I need to improve on.

“I haven’t scored enough goals in my career and it’s the perfect start to get one.

“To get a striker like Jack Midson playing you a nice little ball is brilliant, I just set myself and hit it.

“Luckily enough, against one of my local teams as I live just down the road, I managed to get a goal, I’m really happy with how everyone performed.

“I’m really looking forward to the next match at home, it’s a really busy week for us.”

The 31-year-old started in midfield alongside Ben Strevens and made his competitive debut alongside fellow summer signings Paul Reid, James Constable and Midson.

The Leeds-born player, who has appeared for England C in the past, was operating as a box-to-box midfielder at the heart of the Spitfires side and proved effective as they broke down the Boro defence.

Stanley arrived at Eastleigh on a free transfer in early July after failing to agree terms of a new contract at Aldershot.

He played every minute of every match as captain last season, leading Shots to a 19th place finish in the Conference.

Stanley has played for Morecambe, Bristol Rovers, Torquay and Hereford and has won the Conference Premier play-off twice. That experience could prove invaluable to the ambitious Spitfires, who are the bookies’ third favourites to win the title behind Bristol Rovers and Forest Green.

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