Eastleigh v FC Halifax Town: Opposition focus

Action from Halifax v Eastleigh at The Shay earlier this season.
Action from Halifax v Eastleigh at The Shay earlier this season.

Eastleigh will pose a real danger from set-pieces when they host FC Halifax Town on Saturday, according to Wendy Gee, who covers the club for the Daily Echo.

The Spitfires are in terrific form, having won six of their last seven matches, and are fifth in the National League.

They only won three of their first 12 games this season, but since the appointment of former assistant boss Ben Strevens they have won nine of their 15 league matches.

“Eastleigh are playing really well as a team,” says Gee. “Their team spirit under rookie manager Ben Strevens, who got the job when Andy Hessenthaler quit for Dover earlier in the season, is better than it’s been for years.

“Hessenthaler also deserves some credit for that for the work he and then assistant Strevens did during the summer.

“Strevens has deliberately kept the squad small and close-knit for that very reason. Also, a small squad helps the club financially as money no longer grows on trees since former owner/chairman Stewart Donald moved to Sunderland.

“The fact that Eastleigh no longer have that ‘big spender’ tag to live up to is also helping them, I think.

*They are in play-off contention due to that team spirit and, also, they still have some very good players in their small squad.

*They play with three centre-backs and rely heavily on wing-backs Josh Hare and Michael Green to provide width. They have a lot of height in the side and Mark Yeates, their set-piece maestro, is brilliant at picking them out with corners and free-kicks.”

And Wendy earmarks Yeates as one to watch due to his ability from dead ball situations.

*Dangermen are Mark Yeates, due to set-pieces and creativity, and top scorer Paul McCallum, who is now the second highest scorer in the league with 21 goals.

“He has scored a brace in each of the last three games against Aldershot, Braintree and Salford and is particularly dangerous in the air. “Midfielder/emergency central defender Joey Jones is having a purple patch and set up both goals for McCallum at Salford.”

Gee says Eastleigh have a few walking wounded within their ranks ahead of Saturday’s game.

*They have a few players – Yeates, McCallum and skipper Danny Hollands – battling on through injury, Reda Johnson – their central defensive linchpin – has intermittent hamstring problems and missed the trip to Salford on Saturday and striker Ben Williamson has missed the last few games with a groin problem, so Chris Zebroski has come back in to partner McCallum.”

Likely line-up (5-3-2): Southwood, Hare, Boyce, Johnson, Wynter, Green, Yeates, Jones, Hollands, McCallum, Zebroski.