Shaun Gale was left ‘pulling his hair out’ as silly mistakes cost the Hawks derby success at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium last night.
Defensive errors saw the Spitfires soar into a 2-0 lead in the first half.
Skipper Sam Pearce netted a double for the visitors but his goals sandwiched a Bradley Bubb strike which ultimately secured a 3-2 victory for the big-spending home side.
‘It was disappointing because we were the far better side and they were clinging on in the end,’ said Gale.
‘Unfortunately, the first goal was a mistake and the second one was an even sillier mistake.
‘As a manager, you are pulling your hair out when that happens.
‘After going 2-0 down, though, we got back into the game.
‘And after the break I thought we passed the ball well on a difficult surface and made them look average.
‘The third goal killed us but, if that’s what money can buy you, we’re not doing too badly.’
Ollie Palmer came into the starting line-up for the injured Dan Thompson, as the Hawks made the worst possible start to the Blue Square South derby.
A disastrous breakdown in communication between Pearce and keeper Lyall Beazley saw Daryl McMahon’s speculative left-wing cross bounce between them and into the corner.
With just four minutes on the clock, the duo were left looking at each other in total disbelief.
The Hawks briefly threatened to hit back when Paul Hinshelwood’s deep cross was tipped over the bar by Jack Dovey, who then punched clear the resulting corner.
But Eastleigh had the better of the opening exchanges.
Beazley had to be quick to deny Jamie Slabber, after the ex-Hawks striker was put through by Damian Scannell and Bubb.
McMahon had a firm shot deflected to safety before Slabber looped another effort over the bar.
Scannell then drew a double save from Beazley before firing the home side further in front on 39 minutes.
And once again, the Hawks were the architects of their own downfall.
Chris Holland – under pressure from Slabber – knocked the ball straight to Bubb on the edge of the area.
And when his shot was blocked by the onrushing Beazley, Scannell curled the rebound past two defenders and into the corner.
The Hawks threw themselves a lifeline four minutes later, though.
Pearce turned Steve Ramsey’s low corner into the roof of the net with the aid of a slight deflection to give the visitors hope of a second-half fightback. But that was not to be as – after Slabber had clipped the bar – Bubb restored the hosts’ two-goal cushion on 68 minutes.
Scannell had earlier been denied a hat-trick by a point-blank save from Beazley. But he was not to be denied derby success, despite Pearce’s second goal setting up a tense finale.
Eastleigh: Dovey, Forbes, Green, Rogers, Jordan, Nelson, Smith, Bubb, Slabber, Scannell, McMahon. Subs: Flood, Barfoot, Brown, Montgomery, Gillespie
Hawks: Beazley, Newton, McDonald, Hinshelwood, Holland, Pearce, Ryan, Ramsey, Jones, Palmer, Arthur. Subs: Woodford, Igoe, Braham-Barrett, Fenelon, Whyte
Ref: Mark Pottage (Dorset) Att: 526