FORMER Eastleigh boss Paul Doswell says the Spitfires’ rookie manager Ben Strevens is “moulding them into a good side – certainly at home.”

But he believes the big test for his old club will come at the end of the season when several of the current players’ contracts are up and financial reality sets in following the departure of money man Stewart Donald to Sunderland last April.

Doswell, whose Sutton United side battled back twice from behind but lost to an 88th-minute Ben Williamson goal at his old Stoneham Lane stamping ground, said afterwards: “It was a cracking game of end-to-end football. We didn’t deserve to win, but I thought a draw would probably have been a fair result.

“Craig Eastmond going off (injured) for us was crucial. Young Brad Pearce came on and got caught ball watching for Eastleigh’s winner, but then he’s only 18 and if we had the budget other clubs have got, we could afford to have expensive centre-halves on the bench.

“We’ve got spirit in abundance, but you see the Eastleigh side here today and they must have a budget of well over £1 million.

"They’ve got quality like Reda Johnson and Mark Yeates and that’s what we were up against.

“What they’ve got to cope with is when their budget comes down to our level next season.

“Strevs is moulding them into a good side – certainly at home – and they’ve got a lot of quality in wide areas. I thought Josh Hare was outstanding on the day.

“Should they be tenth in the league? Probably not.”

Sutton’s side featured two former Eastleigh players – centre-back Dean Beckwith and striker Brett Williams.

But, according to Compton-based Dowell, the absence of another ex-Spitfire, Jamie Collins with a calf injury, was telling.

“Jamie’s a leader and skipper and he’s a big miss for us,” he said.

“We took him and Beckwith from this club and it’s the best bit of business we did.

“Eastleigh’s loss is our gain.”