EASTLEIGH boss Ben Strevens praised the character of his players for bouncing back from Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Ebbsfleet.

The heaviest defeat of his short spell in charge was quickly forgotten as the Spitfires got their Vanarama National League play-off push back on track today with a 2-1 derby win over Havant & Waterlooville.

Having taken the lead with a 57th-minute Reda Johnson header, the Spitfires were pegged back by lively Hawks’ sub Hassan Jollah with eight of the 90 minutes remaining.

But having let a two-goal lead slip in the 2-2 Boxing Day draw against the Hawks, Eastleigh made sure that lightning didn’t strike twice as Josh Hare weighed in with a spectacular late winner.

Nodding towards a happy home dressing room, Strevens said: “There will be more good days for that group (of players) than bad days, I know that for certain.

“Josh Hare is a prime example.

“He made an uncharacteristic mistake at Ebbsfleet on Saturday and, three days later, he’s smashed one into the corner to beat our local rivals.

“I think we deserved to win today. If you win a game at this level, you’ve done really well because this league is so tough.”

The three points leave Eastleigh tenth in the table, just three points outside the play-off places.

Havant, working hard to keep their heads above water in their first season in non-League’s top flight, are 20th.

Saluting Eastleigh’s Hampshire neighbours, Strevens said: “Credit to them and to their manager Lee Bradbury.

“They’re a part-time club with a lot of young players and they’re a good side.

“I genuinely hope they get enough points to stay in this league.

“Lee’s a good guy and these local derbies are good for the area.

“They’ve got enough good players and I think they’ll be fine.”