The Spitfires suffer defeat in the North-East despite an excellent free-kick from Chris Maguire against Hartlepool United.

An early goal from Tom Crawford followed by a brace from Mani Dieseruvwe was enough to see the hosts take all three points from Eastleigh.

The visitors had the first chance of the game when Enzio Boldewijn released a shot whilst being pulled but couldn’t gather enough power to cause the goalkeeper any trouble.

Pete Jameson distributed the ball quickly and Hartlepool broke with pace which ended with Joe Grey laying the ball off into the path of Crawford who picked his spot and fired the opener into the bottom corner.

The Pool led the game for 13 minutes before Charlie Carter was fouled just outside the box. Chris Maguire stepped up and bent his free-kick into the far corner beyond the outstretched Jameson to level things up.

Chris Maguire celebrates after scoring his free-kick. © 2023 Image by Graham Scambler Photography

Hartlepool then had two chances in the space of six minutes to lead again.

The first chance came the way of Luke Hendrie who slipped as he shot before his effort trickled towards Joe McDonnell.

The second opening was for Dieseruvwe who attempted a volley which wasn’t caught as cleanly as he would’ve liked and McDonnell could gather once again.

Enzio Boldewijn was gifted a clear-cut chance when Crawford misplaced his backpass right into the path of the attacker who had the ball taken from his possession with a perfectly timed slide tackle from Manny Onaraise.

Both teams went into the break with it all to play for and it was the hosts who started better when Hendrie delivered a cross that Dieseruvwe was able to nod home to take the lead again.

Just over ten minutes later, Hartlepool built on their advantage and extended their lead through Dieseruvwe who got on the end of Grey’s cutback and slotted into the back of McDonnell’s net.

Charlie Carter shapes up to shoot. © 2023 Image by Graham Scambler Photography

There were a lack of chances for either side following the fourth goal of the game and it took until the 80th minute for one to come when Aidan Barlow released a powerful shot that was blocked by the leg of Jameson from a tight angle.

Ten minutes later, Bailey Clements whipped in a great cross to Scott Quigley who, despite his best efforts, was unable to keep his header down.

One final chance for the Spitfires came in the fourth of seven additional minutes when Boldewijn’s header was tipped over the bar by Jameson.

The visitors were left empty-handed and travelled back to Hampshire with nothing to show for their efforts.

Hartlepool: Jameson (GK), Ferguson (C), Lacey, Umerah, Grey, Dieseruvwe, Crawford, Onaraise, Johnson, Hendrie, Featherstone.

Subs: Dixon (GK), Dolan, Wreh, Finney, Seaman.

Eastleigh: McDonnell (GK), Francillette, Carter, Taylor (C), Boldewijn, Langston, Rendall, Maguire, Clements, Quigley, Rutherford.

Subs: Scott (GK), Barlow, Panter, Stock, Yang.

Attendance: 3,521