Eastleigh put in a battling display as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Woking at the Laithwaite Community Stadium in the Vanarama National League.

Substitute Jahmari Clarke netted the winner on his debut for the hosts, having just arrived on loan from Championship side Reading.

The visitors made a bright start to the game, as JJ McKiernan headed across the face of goal in the second minute, but Tristan Abrahams was unable to connect with the ball.

Woking responded well with Padraig Amond forcing a good save out of Joe McDonnell in the third minute.

The hosts then came close to taking the lead, when Josh Casey’s free-kick found James Daly just outside the box and his effort hit the post.

Minutes later, McKiernan was found in plenty of space on the right-hand side and crossed for Abrahams, who almost scored with an audacious backheeled attempt.

The Cardinals then caught Eastleigh on the break, as Amond broke down the right-hand side, crossing for Rohan Ince, who was denied by a superb save from McDonnell.

Jim Kellermann then fired in a speculative effort from range that stung the palms of McDonnell, as both sides continued to attack.

On the half hour mark, a curling free-kick from Michael Kelly found an unmarked Danny Whitehall in the box, but he couldn’t direct his header past Craig Ross in the Woking goal.

Two minutes later, Ryan Hill’s fierce shot from the edge of the box forced an incredible save from Ross to keep the scores even.

Abrahams then poked an effort wide of the mark, as the Spitfires continued their search for the opener.

In first half stoppage time, Ricky Korboa broke down the left-hand side and cut inside before seeing his shot saved well once again by McDonnell.

Shortly into the second half, a Woking free-kick was nodded down by Joe McNerney into the path of Amond, whose header was saved comfortably by McDonnell.

A few minutes later, Eastleigh launched a quick counter-attack which saw Abrahams drag an effort wide of the far post.

Woking brought on loanee Clarke for a debut in the 61st minute, having just agreed a short-term deal with the Cardinals.

Within three minutes, the 19-year-old opened his account for his new club, firing past McDonnell from Korboa’s cross.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the hosts nearly added a second goal, with a McNerney header going wide from Casey’s corner.

An ambitious strike from Kellermann went well wide as Woking looked to kill the game off.

In the final minute of the game, Whitehall headed wide from Kelly’s cross to the back post, as Eastleigh pushed for a late equaliser.

Woking Starting XI: Ross, Moss, Cuthbert, McNerney, Casey (c), Vokins (61), Ince, Kellermann, Daly, Korboa (89), Amond

Subs: Wady, Bilongo, Roles (89), Clarke (61), Roberts

Eastleigh Starting XI: McDonnell, Camp, Kelly, Atangana (68), Martin (c), Cisse, Whitehall, Hill, Langston, Abrahams (68), McKiernan (79)

Subs: Rutherford, Carter (68), Hesketh (68), Willson, Ebanks (79)

Report by Tom Humphrey