A CHANGE of team boss has heralded a change of fortune at Eastleigh as they bid to make it eight league games unbeaten against crisis club Hartlepool United at the Silverlake on Saturday.

But Andy Hessenthaler says that Richard Hill, the man he replaced in the managerial hotseat, deserves huge credit for the revitalised Spitfires sitting second in the National League (six-game) form chart with 14 points from the last 18.

Hill’s continued presence as director of football allows Hessenthaler and his coaching staff to focus purely on team matters.

“It’s nice we’re up there in the form table and the players take all the credit for that, but I’ve just realised what Richard had to deal with as manager,” said Hessenthaler.

“He had to get involved in player accommodation, all sorts, and it’s fantastic for me, Strevs and Rosco (assistant manager Ben Strevens and goalkeeper coach Ross Flitney) that, thanks to Richard, we don’t have to deal with all that. All we have to do is worry about the team.

“We’re on a decent run now and that can’t be easy because Richard was the manager but, credit to him, he’s been a big part of the last six games.

“It was Rich who brought me to the club and he could have asked the chairman to think about bringing someone else in as I was part of the first half of the season (as assistant boss). But he’s backed me and he’s a great buffer for me in terms of talking football.

“I can be fully focused on training and preparing properly for a Saturday without doing all the other stuff that he had to do. If a player’s got a problem, he goes to Richard. It works well.”

Hessenthaler believes the key to Eastleigh’s new-found success is consistency of team selection – a luxury rarely afforded to Hill.

“It’s not healthy when you’ve got to keep chopping and changing, but we’re starting to get some of the bigger names back at our disposal,” he said. “Sam Togwell and Ryan Cresswell are back involved and Danny Hollands will be fit for the weekend.

“Graham Stack’s trained once this week so Saturday’s probably too early. Reda Johnson’s a couple of weeks away, Paul McCallum may be back for Fylde game and Michael Green’s in a boot for two weeks after his ankle op.”

Cash-strapped visitors Hartlepool haven’t won since November 21, but their biggest problems are off the pitch.

Staff/player wages are understood to have been paid this week, but Pools are believed to owe the taxman an estimated £50,000.