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Richard's lionhearts make manager proud
RICHARD Hill was deeply proud of his Eastleigh troops after Saturday’s priceless 2-0 win at Maidenhead United, labelling it: “One of the best performances I’ve witnessed from one of my teams.”
Coming from a man who has spent virtually his entire footballing career in the professional ranks, it was quite a compliment and will fill his side with confidence for another massive game tomorrow when Blue Square Bet South play-off rivals Boreham Wood visit the Silverlake Stadium (Tuesday, 7.45pm).
A Jai Reason penalty and a late header by substitute Alex Lacey carried the seventh-placed Spitfires to victory at York Road, taking them to within three points of fifth-placed Boreham Wood who were held 0-0 at Dorchester.
“Our lads were great,” said Hill. “Maidenhead are one of those sides who, if you don’t turn up and compete against them, you won’t win.
“Earlier in the season we were turning up places like that, not competing and getting beat.
“And, like I said to the lads beforehand, I can give all the gung-ho speeches you like, but it counts for nothing unless you’re prepared to go out, roll up your sleeves and compete.
“They responded with a performance that made me proud. We were unbelievably professional from start to finish against a tough team.”
Having played league leaders Welling and third-placed Dover earlier in the week, Maidenhead were facing their third huge match in eight testing days. But they were no pushovers and it took Eastleigh 20 minutes to mount their first real threat when Chris Zabroski’s blistering shot was pushed wide by goalkeeper Billy Lumley, who was to emerge as his side’s star performer.
The Spitfires eventually beat him on 45 minutes when Reason fired home from the penalty spot following a controversial handball award against Bobby Behzadi who was falling over as he made contact.
Maidenhead went close through Daniel Brown and David Pratt in the first half, but they never really got going after the break and Lumley had his work cut out to keep Dale Binns, Damian Scannell and Chris Todd at bay.
But it was substitute Lacey – dropped to the bench to accommodate well-again centre-back Dean Beckwith – who made sure of the points for Eastleigh, heading home Reason’s corner in the dying minutes.
“We took the game to Maidenhead and, when they had good spell or hit us on the break, we coped with it,” said Hill.
“But you’ve got to give Maidenhead credit. They’d had a very tough week with Welling away, followed by Dover at home and then ourselves.
“In that respect, we probably played them at the best time, being the third of three big teams they’d come up against.
“They’d had to play at their maximum in the two previous games, but they were still going strong at the end on Saturday.
“But every one of our lads competed and wanted to be better than the opposition. We were very efficient in the way we conducted ourselves and our quality came through.”