We turn our attentions to Saturday’s action with a full and in-depth preview of our National League trip to The Silverlake Stadium.
Eastleigh v Pools
Saturday 30th March 2019, 3pm
The Silverlake Stadium
When Eastleigh were beaten 3-0 at Ebbsfleet United in their final game of 2018, they fell six points off the pace in the fight for a top-seven spot in the National League.
However, The Spitfires have really found top gear during the New Year so far and an astonishing run of eight wins from their 11 games since has them in pole position for the final play-off place.
Ben Strevens has orchestrated a sensational run of form which meant that their 1-0 home defeat to Barrow a fortnight ago came as a real shock to the system.
Since then, the Eastleigh boss has been able to strengthen his hand by bringing talented midfielder Sam Matthews back for a third loan spell at The Silverlake Stadium to help galvanise their play-off charge.
Having finished in the bottom half of the division in each of the last two seasons, 2018/19 has marked a return to where the Hampshire outfit feel they belong as they look to challenge for a place in the EFL for the first time in their history.
Only AFC Fylde’s Danny Rowe has scored more National League goals than Paul McCallum this term – and the Eastleigh forward’s form is a big factor in their chase for a play-off spot.
The 25-year-old has smashed home 22 goals in the league so far, including the equaliser in The Spitfires’ 1-1 draw at The Super 6 Stadium back in September.
He re-joined the club during the summer after a season with Welling and has gone on to enjoy a campaign to remember so Pools will need to keep a close eye on the front man this weekend.
Head To Head
Saturday’s game will be the fourth competitive meeting between the sides and Pools are still searching for their first victory over the South West London outfit.
Pools did collect a point on their only previous visit to Gander Green Lane in April when Josh Hawkes’ goal cancelled out Ross Lafayette’s opener in a 1-1 draw.
However, Sutton won a topsy-turvy game at The Super 6 Stadium earlier this term as Pools came from behind to lead 2-1 only to throw away the points in a 3-2 defeat.
Saturday 15th September
Pools 1 (Muir 24) Eastleigh 1 (McCallum 70)
Pools: Loach, Donaldson (Richardson 43), Kioso, Magnay, Anderson, Kitching, Featherstone, McLaughlin (Woods 80), Noble, Muir, James (Dinanga 80).
Subs not used: Hawkes, Newton.
Eastleigh: Stack, Hare, Johnson, Wynter, Jones, Gobern, Yeates, Miley, Payne, McCallum, Dennet (Zebroski 60).
Subs not used: Flitney, Boyce, Hollands, Constable.
Richard Hulme will referee a Pools game for the fifth time this weekend when he’s the man in the middle for our trip to face Eastleigh.
Now in to his second season on the National League’s list of referees, Hulme was also the man on the whistle for our 4-3 defeat at The Silverlake Stadium last term – a game in which he sent-off Carl Magnay late on.
Indeed, the official has shown a red card in three of his four previous Pools appointments – he also dismissed Nicky Deverdics at Dover Athletic last season and Solihull Moors skipper Kyle Storer during our win at Damson Park in September.
Hulme’s most recent outing came at Leyton Orient in midweek when he saw The O’s tighten their grip on top spot with a 2-0 win over AFC Fylde.
If you can’t get to Eastleigh then you can join Mark Simpson on Pools PlayerHD for full live online commentary from The Silverlake Stadium.
Mark will be on-air from 2.50pm to keep you right up to date with the action as it unfolds with Craig Hignett’s men looking to build on last weekend’s win over Wrexham.
Pools fans can make a saving by buying tickets online ahead of the deadline at 5pm on Friday, though there will also be tickets available on the turnstiles at a higher rate.
Eastleigh have been installed as 11/10 favourites for three points on Saturday, with Pools rated a 21/10 shot for the win and a draw priced up at 9/4.