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Three points is everything for Eastleigh boss Hill
Eastleigh's 1-0 win over Eastbourne Borough on Saturday wasn’t much of a spectacle.
Manager Richard Hill admitted as much when he quipped: “If it was on Match of the Day, it would be on last!”
But the result meant everything to the Spitfires who, after a barren week of two games without a win, managed to get their Blue Square Bet South play-off train back on track in front of a 507 crowd.
Tommy Widdrington’s industrious Eastbourne side were guilty of arguably the most glaring miss ever witnessed at the Silverlake Stadium. Yet Eastleigh again went in at half-time ruing their inability to make the most of their chances – the same old story that had cost them dear against Hayes and Havant.
But, fortunately, they managed to re-write the script on this occasion, stamping their authority at the start of the second half with what turned out to be the winning goal from new signing Chris Zebroski.
On an afternoon when Eastleigh forced corners galore, Jai Reason finally found the right delivery, experienced centre-back Chris Todd headed down and former Millwall, Wycombe and Bristol Rovers frontman Zebroski was there to poke the ball home from close range – his first goal for the club.
Todd, who knows Zebroski from his Torquay United days, said: “It’s brilliant for the lad and all credit to him.
“He’s come to a level he shouldn’t be playing at. He’s a good player and he should be playing higher.
“But he’s come here, dug in and put in a right shift today.
“It would be easy for someone of that ability to take their foot off the pedal and think it’s going to be easy coming here. But he doesn’t. He rolls his sleeves up and gets on with it.”
For a good 25 minutes the workmanlike approach of ex-Saint Widdrington’s charges suffocated Eastleigh’s quality and how Borough didn’t take the lead on 13 minutes had to be seen to be believed.
Todd miscued his header as the ball bounced awkwardly just outside the Eastleigh penalty area, allowing Darren Lok to nip in behind. But having done everything right in getting past goalkeeper Ross Flitney, Lok somehow rolled the ball wide of an open goal.
Eastleigh, missing the unwell Dean Beckwith at the heart of defence, were almost caught out again on 18 minutes from a well-worked free-kick routine, but Flitney managed to block a close-range header from ex-Brighton frontman Gary Hart.
Former Eastleigh loanee Frankie Raymond and Hart were off target as Borough continued to press and it wasn’t until midway through the first half that the Spitfires finally emerged as an attacking force.
Like London buses, one chance came along and two quickly followed, but Zebroski, twice, and Dale Binns, failed even to test Danny Potter in the visitors’ goal.
Barring headers from Todd and his central defensive partner Alex Lacey either side of Zebroski’s strike, Eastleigh created little else of note.
Damian Scannell, lacking sharpness on his return from a groin injury, had one crack at goal, but there was nothing to thrill the fans in a messy second-half riddled with injury stoppages.
Lok sent an acrobatic effort wide for Eastbourne from Raymond’s cross and, at the death, Flitney had to be alert to gather at the forward’s feet after he had exchanged passes with substitute Nathan Nyalfi.
Chewing over the performance, Hill said: “The pitch was more of an advantage to Eastbourne than us. It was like an extra player for them.
“But the lads were great. We had to play the conditions today and grind out a scruffy 1-0 win.”