Eastleigh extended their unbeaten run to seven games in a thrilling 2-2 draw against struggling Dover.
Paul McCallum notched his twelfth of the season late on to ensure the points were shared after Dover had turned around Ben Williamson’s early goal.
It was a typical wet winter’s day at the Silverlake Stadium, but the game was given the go ahead after several pitch inspections and a lot of drainage work.
Eastleigh made three changes from the side that beat Maidstone as they approach the busy Christmas season, with Josh Hare unavailable and Alex Wynter and Ross Flitney dropping to the bench.
The Spitfires got off to the perfect start when Mark Yeates’ second minute free-kick forced a good save from Mitch Walker, only to fall straight to Joey Jones.
Jones was able to find a square ball to Ben Williamson, whose instinctive first-time finish opened the scoring for the home side. His fourth of the campaign.
Dover strung together a flurry of corners in an attempt to find an equaliser and they nearly got one in the 13th minute when Inih Effiong’s header flew just over the bar.
Their pressure eventually paid off in the 20th minute with Effiong causing trouble again. The striker found himself free in the box and this time was able to slot the ball past Max Stryjek to make it 1-1.
Eastleigh were forced into a first-half substitution as an injured Joey Jones limped off to be replaced by Alex Wynter in a like for like change.
The home side ended the half strongly and nearly went into the break ahead when Paul McCallum headed Yeates’ cross just over the woodwork in the fourth minute of added time.
The first real chance of the second-half fell to the home side five minutes after the restart as a lovely one-two between Wynter and Williamson ended up with the Eastleigh goalscorer having his effort blocked.
However, it was Dover who took the lead in the 56th minute when a well worked set-piece was eventually rolled into Jai Reason who stabbed it home to gain the advantage.
The former Eastleigh man refused to celebrate on his return to the Silverlake.
Dover looked to double their lead with a great run down the left from Anthony Jeffery who pulled it back for Jamie Allen, but his first-time effort was blocked brilliantly by Reda Johnson.
There wasn’t much for the home fans to cheer as their side were forced into a lot of defending to keep the score at 2-1.
The loudest cheers came for their shot-stopper Stryjek and his spontaneous runs into midfield to try and start attacks.
But in the 86th minute the home crowd were out of their seats as Paul McCallum got on the end of Yeates’ free-kick and headed home emphatically to tie the game up again.
There was a late chance for a twist in the tale as a goal-line scramble was eventually cleared by Eastleigh substitute James Constable.
In the end both teams went home with a point after a dramatic game involving several lead changes.
Eastleigh now turn their attention to next Saturday when they face high-flying Wrexham away from home, hoping to keep their unbeaten run going.
– Elliot Luxton