Garry Haylock was forced into two changes against high flying Eastleigh as both Josh Scott and Delroy Preddie were ruled out through injury, this however did not derail the United train as the Spitfires were well and truly shot down by a fine United performance.
It was the home side who started the brightest and could have taken a fifth minute lead when an Andy Harris long throw was flicked to the far post by Ashley Vickers only for Mark Marshall to slash the ball wide. United then started to find their feet on the wet ground and Kieran Knight almost slipped in Ram Marwa and then minutes later Marwa chased the ball into the corner before finding Danny Allen-Page, his cross was met by Staforde Palmer but his effort was wide of the target.
Palmer again went close without troubling the Spitfires keeper Jason Matthews before a close shave at the other end saw a Marshall corner headed goal wards by Karl Murray but skipper Nevin Saroya was perfectly placed to play the ball off the line. Palmer then broke into the United box and earned a corner as Adam Everitt blocked his effort. The kick was taken quickly to James Mulley who rolled the ball square to Saroya who cracked home a shot from 20 yards that saw Matthews rooted to the spot.
Despite going behind, the closest the home side came to pulling it back before the break saw Marshall charge down an Adam Thompson clearance but the ball flew wide of the target. For United a long punt upfield saw Knight run at Matthews only to be denied by a fine one on one stop by the home keeper. United's second came just seconds into stoppage time, Saroya's free-kick was half cleared and when returned fell nicely to Palmer who with back to goal turned centre-back Vickers before planting a shot across Matthews' dive and in off the far post.
The Spitfires were again quickly out of the blocks in the second half and just seconds in Alessio De Angelis, whose handling was superb all afternoon, had to be careful to gather a drive from Chris Piper on the slippery surface. Far from sitting back on the lead, just seven minutes into the half United scored again. A free-kick was hacked clear by the Eastleigh defence, Peter Collins controlled on his chest on halfway before lofting a perfect ball over the defence that Marwa superbly hooked over his shoulder and the oncoming Matthews and into the home sides net.
Just two minutes later it could have been four, a deep Allen-Page cross was headed back across goal by Liam Collins to Knight who beat his marker but his header was inches wide of the target. With United very much on top, and De Angelis holding every cross the home side threw in, it was 68 minutes before the United stopper was required to make another save, this time holding a drive from Warren McBean after the ball was scrambled out to the former Sutton man. As the game entered its final fifteen minutes Marshall raced past Thompson and despite beating De Angelis, Peter Collins was on hand to clear the danger from his own goal line.
In stoppage time two more goals came within seconds of each other. First to net were United who moved into a four goal lead when a long punt from De Angelis saw the ball sail over the defence to substitute Joel Ledgister who coolly lofted the ball over Matthews who was caught in no mans land. With the game sown up it was a little disappointing that De Angelis did not earn the clean sheet his performance deserved when Matt Hann hooked the ball across to an unmarked McBean who tapped home.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.