Eastleigh fired themselves into the Fifth Round of the Isuzu FA Trophy thanks to a wonder strike from Danny Whitehall in the closing stages at the Silverlake Stadium.

In a tight affair, the Spitfires were made to work hard but eventually found a way through a stubborn Braintree defence as Whitehall fired a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar with just over ten minutes remaining.

With both sides just four games away from the hallowed Wembley turf, there was an added sense of tension as the Spitfires got the game underway at the Silverlake Stadium.

Lee Bradbury’s side looked for yet another fast start, with their first opportunity falling in the fourth minute for in-form striker Alfie Lloyd.

Danny Whitehall headed the ball down for a corner towards the QPR-loanee, but his volley was blocked inside the area.

The Spitfires started fast in search of an early opener (Photo: Graham Scambler)

The visitors responded with two dangerous set pieces of their own, with the first cleared away before a header from the second needed to be well held by Joe McDonnell.

The lively Oscar Rutherford provided an early threat on the right as he beat his man to deliver a cross that found Jake Hesketh, but the midfielder’s deflected effort fell to Ousseynou Cisse who could only drag his chance wide.

The Spitfires were enjoying most of the early opportunities with Tristan Abrahams the next to go close after a rapid break away that set him free only to have his shot saved.

From the rebound, Lloyd somehow saw his attempt grasped by Jack Sims in the Braintree goal.

The Iron weren’t without chances of their own, however, as Lamar Reynolds spun his man and fired in a near post effort that required another strong save from McDonnell.

Matt Rush also went close for the visitors, hitting a powerful shot across goal and wide of the far post.

With further chances being presented at both ends, Whitehall was next to be denied at close range after he’d been cleverly slipped through by Hesketh.

The tense tie was goalless at half time (Photo: Graham Scambler)

Neither side could find the opener as the first half ended goalless, as the second period began in what quickly became an increasingly nervy affair.

Lloyd cut in from the left wing to try his luck but slipped at the vital moment as his shot trickled safely towards Sims, whilst up the other end the visitors blazed over the bar with an effort from the edge of the area.

Rush went close once more for Braintree as his deflected shot was saved down low to McDonnell’s right.

With the minutes counting down in a tight second half, Eastleigh slowly began to turn the screw as they advanced further into their opponents’ half.

The visitors forced a counter attack of their own, however, but Corey Panter provided a vital late tackle to prevent Lamar Reynolds from having a shooting opportunity.

Then, with just ten minutes remaining, the deadlock was finally broken thanks to a powerful strike from Whitehall’s right boot.

Picking up the ball on the edge of the box, the number nine hit a shot which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar and sent the Spitfires faithful into relief-filled raptures.

Danny Whitehall broke the deadlock in style (Photo: Graham Scambler)

Bradbury’s men had to remain resolute as the visitors attempted a late siege on goal; substitute Joe Boachie came closest as he broke free and delivered a low cross that was eventually pounced on by McDonnell in stoppage time.

Whitehall’s goal proved to be the difference as Eastleigh hauled themselves into the fifth round.

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Maghoma, Carter, Cisse (c), Whitehall, Hesketh, Abrahams, Harper, Panter, Rutherford, Lloyd. Subs: Flitney, Atangana, Martin, Langston.

Braintree Town: Sims, Davies, Farrell, Altintop, White (c), Clements, Regis, Payne, Blair, Reynolds, Rush. Subs: Boachie, Niemczycki, Matthews.

Goals: Whitehall (79′)

Attendance: 907