Hattrick hero Paul McCallum helped the Spitfires breeze past Ebbsfleet in a seven-goal thriller to send the Hampshire side into the play-off places.

The Spitfires responded well to going a goal down and a hat-trick from McCallum, as well as goals from Scott Quigley and Chris Maguire, helped the home side secure all three points.

It was a dominant display from the Spitfires and a red card late on for Ebbsfleet epitomised their evening.

It didn’t take long for things to get heated and it took just four minutes for the referee to give out his first yellow card of the game, with this one going to Franklin Domi of the away side after a late challenge on Nigel Atangana.

The first goal didn’t take long to arrive either and the Spitfires found themselves behind in the seventh minute after Darren McQueen received the ball inside the box and rolled it into Joe McDonnell’s bottom right-hand corner -capitalising on the first real opportunity of the match.

Ebbsfleet looked the better of the two sides in the early exchanges, with the Spitfires struggling to keep possession and being penned back in their own half by the away sides’ high press.

Eastleigh eventually got up the pitch and Paul McCallum won his side a free kick that produced the equalising goal in the 17th minute.

Maguire delivered the ball into the box and it was McCallum who managed to get something on it and direct the ball past Mark Cousins.

McCallum heading home the equaliser – Photo by Graham Scrambler

Ebbsfleet responded well and Atangana found his way into the referee’s book after a late challenge on the edge of the box, gifting the away side a free kick in a dangerous position.

Luke O’Neill took the free kick but it went wide of the right-hand post and didn’t trouble McDonnell.

The referee wasn’t afraid to get his cards out and this time Hayden White was cautioned after a cynical foul on Quigley who was bursting down the left in the 21st minute.

Ebbsfleet had a good chance in the 26th minute after Maguire was dispossessed on the edge of his own box, but Ben Chapman’s shot rolled kindly for McDonnell.

The away side were a threat again just seconds later and almost took the lead through their goalscorer McQueen, but his deflected effort rolled just wide of the left-hand post.

The Spitfires took the lead against the run of play with five minutes remaining of the half when a scramble in the box fell to McCallum, who’s effort hit the post and was clawed off the line by Cousins but the linesman raised his flag to confirm that it had crossed the line.

Richard Hill was forced into a change just before half-time, with the experienced Jake Taylor coming on to replace the injured Atangana.

McCallum looked to be pulled down in the box right at the end of the half, but he saw his appeals waved away by the well-placed referee and was booked shortly after for dissent.

There were no changes for either side at the break, with the second-half starting in a similar vein to the first as Trent Rendall was booked within seconds of the kick-off for a trip on McQueen.

It also produced an early goal and the Spitfires got their third just seven minutes in after Quigley showed composure on the ball to take it past Cousins and smash it into the top-right corner.

Scott Quigley celebrating Eastleigh’s third of the night – Photo by Graham Scrambler

A big challenge on McQueen caused the Ebbsfleet bench to jump up in protest, with the yellow card going to their captain Chris Solly for wanting more than just a telling off for the Eastleigh man.

McDonnell kept Eastleigh’s two-goal cushion in tact shorty after when he produced an excellent one-on-one save against the lively McQueen – not once but twice.

Quigley was involved again in the Spitfires’ fourth as he saw his cross headed home neatly by McCallum at the back post for his hat-trick in the 74th minute.

McCallum celebrating his hat-trick – Photo by Graham Scrambler

Quigley was at it again in the 84th minute and if it weren’t for the post, his curling effort would have secured his second and Eastleigh’s fifth of the evening.

McCallum’s last involvement of the game saw him almost grab a fourth, but his effort went just wide and he exited the pitch with a standing ovation from the home crowd

The away side did get one back late on via their danger man McQueen, with the pacy forward rolling it past McDonnell in a one-on-one situation.

Enzio Bodewijn still had plenty of energy late on and his tricky feet won his side a penalty in added time.

Maguire stepped up and smashed it into the bottom left corner, giving Cousins in goal no chance and restoring Eastleigh’s three goal lead.

It was all drama at the end, with substitute Billy Clifford getting sent off for taking a swipe at Rendall in frustration and squaring up to the Spitfire defender.

Report by Freddie Dorman

Eastleigh: McDonnell (C), Atangana (45′), Francillette, McCallum (86′), Boldewijn, Langston, Rendall, Nwabuokei, Maguire, Clements, Quigley

Subs: Scott, Carter, Taylor (45′), Barlow, Rutherford (86′)

Ebbsfleet United: Cousins, O’Neill, Wright (68′), Cisse, McQueen, Domi, Solly (C), Chapman (86′), White, Amoo (81′), Hollis

Subs: Sterling-James, Tanner, Edser (86′), Clifford (68′), Coulthirst (81′)

Attendance: 1,542