Eastleigh left Meadow Lane empty handed as three second half goals saw fellow promotion hopefuls Notts County come from behind to take a 3-1 victory.

The hosts got us underway at Meadow Lane, but Eastleigh were quick out the blocks. A stray ball looked to be in the path of Gerry McDonagh, who chased the ball into the box; Notts’ keeper Tiernan Brooks was first to arrive and clear.

The Spitfire’s forged another half-chance early on. Charlie Carter made a darting run into the box, but as he assessed his options, a last-ditch tackle from Aden Baldwin stopped him making the cross as two blue shirts awaited the delivery.

Notts saw their first effort of the game saved by Joe McDonnell. Ruben Rodrigues’ 20-yard effort was easy for the in-form shot stopper to deal with.

Minutes later, Danny Whitehall’s effort from the edge of the area was saved by Brooks; he could only parry back into play, however, leaving a County defender to clear the danger.

Aaron Nemane made a dangerous run down the right wing for Luke William’s side, the resultant cross was dealt with excellently by Aaron Martin, who threw himself at the ball to smother the attack.

Danny Whitehall fires towards goal. Image by Ricky Hart.

County were awarded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the area, on the stroke of the 25th minute following a challenge on Rodrigues. Jodi Jones fired around the wall; an outstretched McDonnell tipped the effort around his post.

Following a whipped in corner, the Spitfires won a 32nd minute penalty. A scramble in the box broke out and through bodies, referee Scott Simpson spotted foul-play on a blue shirt and halted play.

Whitehall stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way – firing Lee Bradbury’s men ahead in the East Midlands and adding to the forwards tally for the season.

The next ten minutes saw a midfield battle commence, with neither side getting much action in the way of goal – Eastleigh were awarded a free kick from the right hand side, in line with the edge of the area.

Kelly’s free kick was expertly pulled back to Whitehall, who escaped the crowd unmarked, but scuffed his effort.

County immediately hit on the break and used the right flank well again. A cross was put in to Macaulay Langstaff, who used his head well. McDonnell came to the rescue again as he sprung across goal to gather the effort.

The Spitfires headed in a goal to the good at the break, following an impressive first half display.

Eastleigh went into half time with the lead. Image by Ricky Hart.

The Magpies had the first real chance of the half, on the 48th minute. Jodi Jones’ tried to cause the keeper some trouble but Christian Maghoma put his body on the line to block the close range effort.

A short-winded spell of domination followed for the hosts, they could only forge a handful of corners and half chances, however – the Eastleigh backline dealt with their efforts well.

County were still trying to open up the Eastleigh defence as Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ teed up from a dangerous position, his effort sailed high in front of the home fans.

On the hour mark, the Nottingham side equalised. A well worked attack saw Rodrigues with the ball in the box. He wrong footed the Eastleigh defenders and slotted home.

The hosts were throwing everything at it for another goal. An excellent ball found Lemonheigh-Evans, who dribbled into the box and whisked a low cross through the 6-yard-box.

Langstaff fired himself at the ball, but it was out of the strikers reach and rolled to safety.

Notts were awarded a penalty on the 70th minute following a handball. McDonnell made a heroic double save from Rodrigues penalty.

The shot stopper threw himself down to his left to reach the initial penalty down to and got up and rapidly across to the right to deal with the rebound. His efforts keeping the scores level.

Five minutes later, County took the lead. Ruben Rodrigues redeemed himself, capitalising on his sides second-half dominance. He slotted his effort low and hard, out of McDonnell’s reach into the bottom corner.

The Spitfires looked to find a way forward, Whitehall sustained a minor head injury in what looked to be a promising build-up.

Two minutes before time, Langstaff added a third to the hosts tally. A cross from the right flank found the head of the striker who headed low into the corner, all but putting the game out of Eastleigh’s reach.

Ryan Hill single-handedly travelled into the box, as he looked to salvage something for the Spitfires. The substitute evaded three Notts County defenders and got a shot away, his close range effort was blocked.

McDonnell, who had a busy second half, was forced into two stoppage time saves, one to deny Sam Austin at the near post and another blocking Langstaff’s point blank effort.

The hosts took all three points at Meadow Lane, winning 3-1.

Report by Matthew Benton-Smith

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Kelly, Martin (c), Maghoma (82), Carter, Cissé, Whitehall, Langston, McKiernan, Rutherford(83), McDonagh (75)

Subs: Hill (75), Tshaka, Bragg (83), Stock, Scrimshaw (82)

Notts County: Brooks, Chicksen, Baldwin (56), Rowlinson, Jones(70), Nemane, Bostock (60), Palmer, Lemonheigh-Evans, Rodrigues, Langstaff (c)

Subs: Cameron, Bajrami (56), O’Brien, Vincent (70), Austin (60)