Salford City visit Eastleigh for the first time on Saturday fresh from returning to the top of the league on Tuesday night.
The 3-1 win at Barnet also extended The Ammies’ unbeaten run to 15 games in the league, and seeing Graham Alexander’s side unbeaten through October.
Now before attentions turn to the Emirates FA Cup First Round, Salford can cement their place at the top if they can extend this run to 16 at Silverlake Stadium.
Opponents Eastleigh have been in the National League for four seasons after promotion from the Conference South as Champions in 2013-14 and have benefitted from investment since 2010 by Stewart Donald. However there were changes in the summer at The Spitfires, named so after a vote in 2005 in tribute to the local Southampton Airport where the Spitfire first flew from, as Donald sold the club in order to take ownership of League One Sunderland.
There were some parties that expected Eastleigh to struggle in the wake of Donald’s exit, however in the summer former manager Andy Hessenthaler managed to keep the majority of his squad together and added some experienced signings in the form of Alex Wynter, Josh Hare and Oscar Gobern.
A further blow came to The Spitfires when Hessenthaler, on the back of a six-game unbeaten and four-game winning run, left to take over struggling Dover Athletic, but Eastleigh have maintained their position under caretaker manager Ben Strevens.
Defeat to Hampton & Richmond Borough knocked Eastleigh out of the Emirates FA Cup, but that could help their league campaign as they come into this game just four points outside the play-offs.
Recent Form – WLLWD
As far as consistency goes a loss, a win and a draw is probably the most inconsistent set of results for Strevens in his three league games in charge (add another defeat in the FA Cup), but Eastleigh have managed to keep themselves up and amongst the play-off chasers.
On Tuesday night Macauley Bonne had to rescue a point for Leyton Orient at Silverlake Stadium after Josh Hare headed the Spitfires in front, and there were a number of good chances too for the hosts to extend that lead.
One of the keys to Eastleigh’s form is their ability to score, and they haven’t failed to score in a game since a 0-0 draw with AFC Fylde in early September. However there is work to do to re-find the solidity that saw them keep three clean sheets at the end of September although they came close on Tuesday.
One to watch – Josh Hare
The full-back is in sensational goal scoring form at the moment with three goals in his last four league outings, including two in the last two.
One of Hessenthaler’s summer signings from Maidstone, the 24-year-old isn’t afraid to get forward. His goal against Gateshead came from an adventurous run forward and cutting in field, while the last two have both been headers from set-pieces so the former Gillingham lad offers some rounded options.