Cup agony goes on for Eastleigh

Basingstoke Gazette: MICHAEL GREEN (top) MICHAEL GREEN (top)

ANOTHER costly Hampshire FA Senior Cup experience has shorn Eastleigh of two senior players for tomorrow’s Blue Square Bet South trip to Sutton United.

Left-back Michael Green and striker Lee Peacock are both the worse for wear after Tuesday’s marathon county cup quarter-final at New Milton where the Spitfires bowed out after extra-time and penalties against AFC Bournemouth’s development squad.

Peacock has hurt his knee and Green has an ankle problem which forced him to make an early exit from training yesterday.

For manager Richard Hill it stirs up unpleasant memories of Eastleigh’s previous HSC tie when Green and Jai Reason jarred their knees on a bumpy Fleet Spurs surface.

It ruled them out of the starting line-up for the following Saturday’s league game at Dover, which the Spitfires lost.

“Once again we’ve lost two of our senior players because of the Hampshire Cup,” sighed Hill.

“Greener started to train yesterday but pulled out almost straight away.”

Whether Green’s injury will prompt a change of formation for Eastleigh tomorrow, Hill was not prepared to say.

Last Saturday he went with three centre-backs – Chris Todd, Dean Beckwith and loanee Alex Lacey – in the 3-1 home win over Farnborough and gave full-backs Mitchell Nelson and Green licence venture down the flanks.

But there is every chance he could revert to a back four tomorrow with Lacey switching to right-back and Nelson replacing Green on the left.

“Defensively we looked a lot more resilient against Farnborough than we have done all season,” said Hill.

“But will we stick with that formation every week? I don’t know.

“Sometimes the players you’ve got available dictate the way you play. Todd and Beckwith can perform in a back four and Mitchell Nelson can switch to left-back.

“We’ve given ourselves a Plan B and I’d like to think the three new defenders we’ve brought in (Todd, Beckwith and Lacey) will stand us in good stead.

“I’m really encouraged that in the last two games we’ve scored eight goals and conceded one.”

Both those wins - against Farnborough (3-1) and Billericay (5-0) - were played at the Silverlake and Hill knows that the real test of his 12th-placed side’s mettle will come on the road where Eastleigh have picked up a pitiful four points from a possible 33.

Tomorrow they face a Sutton side sitting next to bottom, but Paul Doswell’s men are just four points behind Eastleigh with two games in hand.

“We’ve only played eight league games in the last three months and, to be fair to Sutton, they’ve hardly played either,” said Hill. “You’re going to be down near the bottom if you’re not playing.

“Historically we know the weather’s going to be bad in December and January, so why don’t the league give you more fixtures in November?”

Sutton have signed former Spitfire James ‘Jay’ Folkes from Ebbsfleet.

The midfielder/striker made one start and one sub appearance for the Spitfires in 2009/10.

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